London, U.K. – A British history professor stirred up the internet by calling a popular South Indian rice cake, idli, “the most boring dish in the world.” Professor Edward Anderson made this comment in response to a question by the food delivery service, Zomato. On Twitter, Zomato asked, “what’s that one dish you could never understand and why [do] people like it so much?”
South Indian Twitterati and food fanatics, while furious, are calling Anderson an idli-hater (Idligate). Indian politician, Shashi Tharoor’s response that “the taste and refinement to appreciate idlis, enjoy cricket, or watch ottamthullal (a comedic art form) is not given to every immortal,” won many hearts.
Although baffled by the agitation he caused, Anderson’s views on idli remain the same. Anderson expressed his love for Indian food, especially dosa and appam which are fermented rice pancakes. Still, Anderson finds idli and puttu, steamed rice cylinders with coconut, insufferable. During this controversy, Anderson realized that the South Indian idli defenders are a seriously passionate bunch. It’s interesting to know that Anderson’s wife is South Indian.
The “storm” raised by this discussion tells us that food does, in fact, operate as an expression of cultural identity. Immigrants bring their food with them wherever they go. By cooking traditional food, immigrants preserve their culture. The question here is should food be a symbol of pride?
Thumbnail Credits: Twitter
- Twitter – Shashi Tharoor and Edward Anderson.