Weekday Squib: Goulash is not Vindaloo!

Britain’s curry crisis

You are in Britain. You want to try the local cuisine. The vindaloo tastes like…goulash. You feel cheated. And demand to see the chef. He steps out of the kitchen, and speaks…Hungarian.

The ‘BBC’ got it wrong. This is not a curry crisis. It’s an evil EU conspiracy to reverse the course of British culinary history.

…restrictions on lower-skilled workers from outside the EU are causing a labour shortage so severe it could cause “irreparable damage” to the curry industry….attempts to get eastern Europeans to work in curry restaurants have failed because they do not have the “cultural sensitivity” required. [‘BBC’]

Bangladesh must rescue Britain from Brussels.

13 thoughts on “Weekday Squib: Goulash is not Vindaloo!”

  1. Nitin,

    what about the impact of global warming? If rising sea levels wipe Bangladesh off the map, the consequences for the curry industry could be disastrous. Shall we now see Britain paying the Netherlands to transfer technology to Bangladesh? Vill the vindaloo vendors be villing to sponsor Dutch Dikes for Dhaka?

  2. Dear Aadisht,

    You have raised a very important issue: the problem of curry change. A new documentary is called for: The Unpalatable Truth.

    The EU is exacerbating the curry problem. If not for its restrictive immigration problems, Bangladeshis could simply move to Britain. Not only is that solution ruled out, the EU is not even remotely thinking of sponsoring dikes in Bangladesh. We must ask Dr Pandey to conduct research on global blanding and its consequences.

  3. “It’s an evil EU conspiracy to reverse the course of British culinary history.”

    What culinary history?

  4. Dear Anuj,

    In recorded history (Jaffrey, S. Tandoori Nights. BBC) Britain’s culinary tradition goes way back to circa 1960 CE, with the South Asian conquest. But archaeological studies and radio-carbon dating suggest that Britain had some from of a cuisine even before that, mainly involving roasted root vegetables (eg potato) and meat (eg beef). Anthropological studies, mainly from the spread of people from the British Isles to Australia suggest that deep fried pieces of fish and oblong pieces of potato might have been invented in Britain. There is some confusion though—perhaps another older European conspiracy—because the deep fried pieces of potato are called “French” fries in North America.

    But British culinary tradition also involves liquid foods. Here the British influence is more discernable. Ancient British mystics invented nutritious drinks that included malt, hops and barley as ingredients, and involved an elaborate process of brewing. Other British mystics invented a more nutritious brew involving molasses, wheat, oak barrels and distillation. Scholars speculate that India’s national drink, Scotch Whiskey, actually originated in Britain. They point to circumstantial evidence—a particular musical instrument on the label of a famous brand—that suggests British origins. But other scholars reject the British Invasion theory by pointing to the turban, beard, colour of skin and other adornments on the same label and argue that the drink is purely Indian. Similarly, they argue Beer was introduced to Britain by Dr Mallya during the second wave of the South Asian Conquest of Britain (circa 1998 CE).

    In conclusion, we can safely say that Britain’s culinary tradition is rich, long and has had a wider influence than is generally acknowledged.

  5. As long as EU does not feel the need to standardize the taste of curry (as they tried with curvature of certain fruits).

    Anyway, if you go to Southern California, all types of cuisines are prepared by Mexicans from Italian to Mongolian.

    Your comment on British culinary history deserves a post on its own 🙂

  6. You forgot to mention another great historical text: Asterix in Britain.

    Long before the CE started, the British had a national drink: hot water. They usually took it at a particular time of the day (late afternoon, difficult to be precise about timings in those watch-less days). Some of them even added a dash of milk to the hot water.

  7. Dear Vivek,

    You have fallen for yet another European attempt to discredit British cuisine. The Asterix series of historical texts written by French scholars, Goscinny and Uderzo, deliberately misrepresent British culinary history. The same texts disparage Italians, Belgians, Americans, Egyptians etc, and are a fine example of the use of history to assert cultural supremacy.

  8. Come to think of it.. Indian milkmen have indeed been adding a dash of milk to water and selling it as milk. I suppose there is some truth in what you say. Enjoyable history books those, nonetheless.

  9. This equation of British chips with American (and everywhere else in the civilised world) fries shows a shocking lack of understanding of the fundamental character of the two dishes.

  10. Dear Aishwarya,

    As I wrote…it’s all part of the age-old conspiracy. You are welcome to post your learned dissertation on this important subject.

  11. Sigh. The conspiracy (it is a French one, of course) is a lot more complex than you make it sound. The British chip and the French (actually Belgian, the cunning of the French is seen once again) fry are different dishes altogether. The french fry is thinner, crisper, and retains less oil on its surface. The dimensions of the chip are very different – it’s thicker and more solid. because of this, one is truly able to _experience_ the potato. The ‘french’ fry reduces the potato to an anonymous fried substance.

    The true genius of the French conspiracy is in propogating the myth that the chip and the fry are supposed to be the same thing, and that therefore the chip is an inferior version of the fry. They’ve gone so far as to describe the soft interior of the chip as “soggy” and “oily”, ignoring the British chip’s superior vinegar-absorbing abilities and its greater thickness (which means that there is probably less oil per square inch of potato)

    I could continue and talk at length about the newspaper wrapping of the chip and its cultural significance, but I think I should shut up.

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