Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post columnist, who also calls himself “epistemologist, enthusiast of excreta-related humor [sic]” on his Twitter profile has unleashed the wrath of none other than the otherwise soft-spoken gastronomy specialist and celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi.
The matter began with a rather long and in-hindsight an unnecessary, apparently humour-ridden article Gene had written on 19 August for his column in TWP. In his article, titled “You can’t make me eat these foods,” Gene had listed out foods he wouldn’t eat, such as hazelnuts, anchovies and — well — Indian food. His article went on to say, “If you like Indian curries, yay, you like Indian food! If you think Indian curries taste like something that could knock a vulture off a meat wagon, you do not like Indian food. I don’t get it, as a culinary principle,” he continued. “It is as though the French passed a law requiring every dish to be slathered in smashed, pureed snails. (I’d personally have no problem with that, but you might, and I would sympathize.)”
Among the many, including non-Indians who slammed Gene for his write-up, was The Top Chef hostess Padma Lakshmi. On her Insta page, she posted a caption saying, “What in the white nonsenseTM is this?” Then, as caption to her screenshot post, she wrote, “There is truly no need for something like this to be published in 2021 (or ever). It’s racist and lazy at best. My issue is not this person’s performative contrarianism (although it is tedious) or that he didn’t enjoy the Indian cuisines he’s tasted. My problem is in this attempt at a comedic piece he’s actually just regurgitating old colonizer tropes, gleefully reducing the culture and country of 1.3 billion people to a (frankly) weak punchline- and that the @washingtonpost published it [sic].”
A by-now wiser Gene was quick to issue an apology even as the TWP issued a correction. “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.) [sic]”