You probably like to cook sometimes. Everyone secretly fancies themselves as a bit of a celebrity chef. I have a tendency to explain out loud as I cook, as in for instance “ you’ll notice that I lower the egg very slowly into the boiling water” or “did you see how I opened that tin”? Apart from professional chefs who actually work exceedingly hard, there are simply millions of people who fancy themselves as excellent cooks out there cooking to the highest and undoubtably in many cases not so high standards. Two buzz words that pop up again and again are authentic and ethnic. If you make a curry or a gumbo or tomato sauce, does it taste authentic?
Authenticity is measured in a rather ephemeral manner with this simple test. When you take a bite of your ethnic food are you fleetingly transported to the country of origin in your mind? Does each spoonful of gumbo give you fleeting images of sitting on a balcony in New Orleans watching a funeral gently dance it’s way past below? If you take a bite of your soft corn fish taco do you feel a gentle fleeting breeze on your face and picture a white sandy Cancun beach?… If the answer is “Well..not really” then this is just the thing for you. Basically each dish has at least three or four ingredients that you must use. It doesn’t matter what personal twist a cook or even a region puts on the dish they will still always use these basic ingredients. These are the authenticity factor in a dish. At cooksmarts.com they have a wonderful infographic which easily illustrates which ingredients are key in ethnic cooking and lots of other great cooking info too. Keep it authentic, keep it real.
(Image from a painting by Carl Nebel)