Monica Saigal Bhide
What makes a recipe authentic? Should we care? Why? LISTEN – EAT YOUR MANGOES
So true when you said – Authenticity becomes pain in the ear when it becomes rigid instead of an evolution. 🙂
Loved the podcast Monica.
Loved the podcast.. Not many people realize how ‘fusioned’ Indian dishes really are and that this cross pollination has been taking place for literally thousands of years! CUmin with potato curry.. Neither cumin nor potato are native! & yet, its so integral to our daily fare!
I already loved Indian food before I started reading your blog, but you’ve made me appreciate it even more. Your podcast was great! It’s nice to put a “voice” with your words.
With the advent of the Internet and the constantly increasing percentage of people accessing it, “authenticity” of recipes becomes harder and harder to define or prove – if authenticity can be defined at all.
I make a wonderful dish called Swedish Stew. I learned to make Swedish Stew from my mother. My mother learned the recipe from her mother my mother’s mother learned it from her mother.
So is my Swedish Stew recipe “traditional”, “authentic”? I never thought about that question before, I just knew I loved it and have considered it a comfort food all my life. Before today I never even looked up a recipe for Swedish Stew anywhere – why would I need to, I HAVE the recipe for Swedish Stew ?. But this morning I Googled “Swedish Stew”. I found a number of recipes for Swedish Stew, also known as Kalops. Some recipes I found in no way resembled “my” Swedish Stew. Several others were quite similar to my recipe though included an additional ingredient or two or failed to include an ingredient from my recipe.
So is my recipe “traditional”? Most definitely it’s traditional, at least in my family. It’s been passed down through women from at least four generations, one of whom lived her entire life in Sweden and another born in Sweden but emigrated to the US as a young adult.
Now is it “authentic” Swedish Stew? Is there even such a thing? Well I did find a few recipes for Swedish Stew that are very close to my recipe. That tells me that there must be a recipe in Sweden called Swedish Stew that’s been around awhile and is very similar to what I know as “Swedish Stew.” Who or what can account for the differences I found? In times gone by recipes often weren’t written down. They were passed from generation to generation by word of mouth and since memory sometimes fails a recipe is changed because of what is remembered or not remembered. Some recipes change over time because certain ingredients aren’t available in various places. Others change because the cook didn’t care for a particular ingredient and thus left it out of her version of a recipe. Still others change because an inventive cook thought, “I think this recipe would be even better if I added X to it,” and thus the recipe evolved over time.
My conclusion is that it’s really not appropriate to tell someone her recipe isn’t an authentic Swedish Stew or an authentic Chicken Tikka Masala. The recipes ARE authentic to the person cooking them regardless of how they may have evolved over time or how your version of it may differ from another. I suppose from an historical point of view one might want to try to define a recipe’s “authenticity” or trace its history, but isn’t what’s important in the end, how much those you share your recipe with enjoy eating it? Nothing reminds me more of my mother than Swedish Stew nor reminds me more of my heritage than knowing that I can sit down to a meal tonight that members of my family have enjoyed for generations. Isn’t it the connections that matter rather than something called “authenticity?”
Thank you! Great podcast!
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