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Authentic Cuisine

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#1 StMaximo

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 07:37 PM

A short time ago there were some discussions of what constituted "Authentic" in several threads on this forum. I had hoped that the person most in pursuit of authentic would have taken the ball and run with it, but no such luck.


I've often thought that authentic is a snapshot of a time and place as well as conditions and ingredients. I think of Italian food using lots of tomatoes and Thai food as laced with peppers. Both tomatoes and peppers are New World plants, so at what point did they become "Authentic"?


Anyway, I was watching "The Search For General Tso" on Netflix the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it. It touched on what is authentic Chinese cuisine and basically the conclusion I drew is that authentic is at the end of he rainbow. It's a constantly moving and evolving target. The documentary covered a lot of the history of Chinese food in America. I found it interesting that the authority on Chinese food in New York is a Jewish man. There are supposedly about 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the US. There was a Chinese man who claims to have eaten at 6,000 of them.


The conclusion I drew from the movie is that most food is true to the original dish for only a short time and then morphs into something suitable for the local market.


The movie is very entertaining and is worth an hour and a half of your time. One caveat; ordering take out General Tso's Chicken to eat while watching the moving will not enhance the experience. Trust me on that.

#2 ExtraMSG

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 08:34 PM

I have that in my Netflix queue.  Looking forward to watching it.  I think "authentic" means little more than what people make in a place at a time.  It's pretty squishy.  I find "traditional" slightly better.


What most people really mean when they say "authentic" is "familiar".  It's what is familiar to them from a time and a place.


One of the problems you see on these here internets when people use this sense of "authentic" is that they so often don't realize that each cuisine have several modes: home cooking, restaurant cooking, fast food, festival food, party food.  What often happens when people equate "authentic" food with what is familiar from their travels is that they limit a cuisine to its restaurant or fast food.  They may overlap, but they often don't.  Personally, I find home cooking traditions more interesting and more varied, but often much harder to investigate.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#3 crepeguy

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 05:53 PM

Here's an interesting article about American/Chinese cuisine. Naysayers complain it's not real and lacks authenticity, but, well. . read the article: