Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist draws backlash after mocking Indian cuisine in humor column

Washington post journalist

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.”

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.

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  • “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.”

  • 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.”

Featured Image via Politics and Prose

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