Gene Weingarten, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and humor columnist at the Washington Post, took to Twitter to apologize for his article that mocked Indian cuisine.
Controversial piece: Weingarten mocked the South Asian country’s cuisine in his Aug. 19 article titled “You can’t make me eat these foods,” where he inaccurately described Indian food as “based entirely on one spice,” according to CNN.
- “If you like Indian curries, yay, you like one of India’s most popular class of dishes,” Weingarten wrote. “If you think Indian curries taste like something that could knock a vulture off a meat wagon, you do not like a lot of Indian food.”
- The Washington Post author received a flood of criticism online, including one comment from Indian American model, Bravo’s “Top Chef” and Hulu’s “Taste the Nation” host, Padma Lakshmi that read, “Is this really the type of colonizer ‘hot take’ the @washingtonpost wants to publish in 2021?”
- Lakshmi, later, published an op-ed for the Washington Post, in which she wrote: “Gene Weingarten’s column headlined ‘You can’t make me eat these foods,’ published in The Washington Post Magazine, is unintentional anti-humor, regurgitating an unimaginative, racist joke with no punchline.”
Is this really the type of colonizer ‘hot take’ the @washingtonpost wants to publish in 2021- sardonically characterizing curry as “one spice” and that all of India’s cuisine is based on it? pic.twitter.com/suneMRD8vs
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) August 23, 2021
You don’t like a cuisine? Fine. But it’s so weird to feel defiantly proud of not liking a cuisine. You can quietly not like something too
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) August 23, 2021
— Anand Giridharadas @ The.Ink (@AnandWrites) August 23, 2021
who the fuck is @geneweingarten, how the fuck is he allowed to speak on food when his palate is so numb he thinks CURRIES are a single spice dish & why the fuck is WaPo publishing straight up National Front talking points disguised as food opinions? https://t.co/PrMNfeNroM
— Shiv Ramdas (@nameshiv) August 23, 2021
I just heard about @geneweingarten for the first time in my life. What he doesn’t know about indian food would fill an encyclopedia. I plan never to hear about him again.
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) August 24, 2021
Dude just write a glowing review of your favorite dish from Applebee’s for your hometown newspaper and save us all the drama
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) August 23, 2021
I pride myself on my Pakistani cooking. I also love South Indian, and fusion dishes. That you got paid to write this tripe, and boldly spew your racism is deplorable.
May your rice be clumpy, roti dry, your chilies unforgivable, your chai cold, and your papadams soft.
— Shireen Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) August 23, 2021
— rabia O’chaudry (@rabiasquared) August 23, 2021
The aftermath: Following the backlash, Weingarten decided to give Indian cuisine another try. However, after eating at the Indian restaurant Rasika in Washington D.C.’s Penn Quarter and West End, the journalist took to Twitter to criticize his order.
- “Took a lot of blowback for my dislike of Indian food in today’s column so tonight I went to Rasika, DC’s best Indian restaurant,” he said in the now-deleted tweet, The Indian Express reported. “Food was beautifully prepared yet still swimming with the herbs & spices I most despise. I take nothing back.”
- After reading his tweet, Ashok Bajaj, the owner of the famous Indian restaurant, invited the author to Rasika. He suggested he could teach Weingarten how to order Indian food and enjoy them. “I look forward to converting him as well as I’ve converted, I would say, thousands of non-Indian fans before,” Bajaj told The Washingtonian.
- Bajaj admitted he had no idea Weingarten visited his restaurant and only found out after seeing Weingarten’s online post. He had opened his first restaurant Bombay Club in 1989 and is used to attitudes like Weingarten. Although, he admitted that people are “a lot more educated now than they were 30 years ago” when he started his venture in the food industry.
- Weingarten apologized for his behavior on Monday, stating that “the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant d*ckhead I am.”
From start to finish plus the illo, the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant d—head I am. I should have named a single Indian dish, not the whole cuisine, & I do see how that broad-brush was insulting. Apologies.(Also, yes, curries are spice blends, not spices.)
— Gene Weingarten (@geneweingarten) August 23, 2021
- The Washington Post also made corrections in the article and added an editor’s note, saying, “A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Indian cuisine is based on one spice, curry, and that Indian food is made up only of curries, types of stew. In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes.”
- Lakshmi addressed his apology in her op-ed, and posted a listing on Twitter in search of “young, hungry, comedy writers of color who would love a syndicated column in The Post.”
🎙Calling comedy writers of color. Link to your work below!
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) August 26, 2021
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