A Washington Post humor columnist offers a tepid apology for disparaging Indian food

Washington Post “humor” columnist Gene Weingarten rightfully got a major internet dragging for his August 19 piece, “You can’t make me eat these foods.” He threw shade at a variety of foods from anchovies and balsamic vinegar to hot dogs with more than two toppings. But he reserved the worst of his commentary for Indian food. He opined that Indian cuisine is based on one spice—which he identified as “curry”—and reduced a whole subcontinent’s foods to curries. In fact, curry is not a spice, and India is home to vastly diverse cuisines that use many spice blends (Facts? Who needs ’em). Indian American cookbook author Padma Lakshmi, who hosts Bravo’s “Top Chef” and Hulu’s “Taste the Nation,” was one of Weingarten’s most outspoken critics. On Twitter, she referred to Weingarten’s column as a “colonizer hot take” and characterized it as “white nonsense.” Weingarten continued his cycle of shame by issuing a half-hearted sorry-but-not-really-sorry, tweeting, in part, “I should have named a single Indian dish, not the whole cuisine, & I do see how that broad-brush was insulting. Apologies.” Weingarten later spoke to CNN Business, sharing fascinating insight into how he views his coveted gig as a paid columnist at one of the nation’s most venerated newspapers. He thought “people would not take this column seriously because I was not taking myself seriously.” Clearly, he got that really wrong. Lakshmi wrote a deliciously direct rebuttal, also published in the Post, calling out the column’s “ignorant energy” and the long history of how immigrant foods have been denigrated as “stinky” and undesirable.

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