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US author says Indian food is terrible, leaves Twitter with a bitter taste in the mouth

Prompted to post most controversial food opinion, US author & academician Tom Nichols shares his negative opinion on Indian food, triggering a massive debate.

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New Delhi: Indians are proud of their heritage, and don’t take any criticism to it lightly. And when it comes to food, the pride is overwhelming as Indian cuisines are evidently savoured and relished the world over. It was hence no surprise that an American author and academician had to face major outrage on social media after he made a negative remark on Indian food.

The Indian Twitterati came together to respond to Tom Nichols, a professor at the US Naval War College and specialist in Russian affairs and US politics, when he said Indian food is “terrible”.

It all started after Nichols responded to a Twitter user Jon Becker’s 19 November post asking for people’s “most controversial food opinions”.

Nichols wouldn’t have imagined that his tweet will offend thousands Indian food lovers across the world on Twitter.

“Indian food is terrible and we pretend it isn’t,” his 24 November post read.

This was enough to trigger an outraged response from Indians as well as people across the world who targeted Nicholas for not appreciating the lineage of the most flavourful and diverse food culture.

With almost 15,000 comments and 13,000 retweets, the tweet has been getting a lot of attention since Sunday morning.

American author and anchor of the cookery reality show Top Chef Padmalaskhmi led the attack on Nicholas, by asking, “Do you not have tastebuds?”

Here are some of the other responses to Nichols’ post.

Thor Benson, a writer, responded, “I’ll take Americans not understanding food from other cultures for $1,000”

Another Twitter user wrote, “Imagine going through life being this flavorless. Lol”

Indian journalist Aditya Raj Kaul retorted, “Some people are so mistaken and pretend they aren’t.”

Author Rashmi Nike drew attention to the centuries-old spice exports from India to other countries including US.

“k u wanna return our spices from the past 400 years”

A user went a step ahead and compared this to supporting US President Donald Trump

“This opinion is worse than if you’d support trump.”

Also read: ‘Dharma isn’t America’s to claim’ — Indian author accuses Hollywood of cultural appropriation

Others did not hesitate to call out the “blandness” of American food in response.

“I agree if you have grown up in a universe of cornflakes for breakfast, bland meat with a few veggies thrown in for lunch and dinner, & an occasional tasteless pizza; with salt and pepper being the only notable ‘spices’.”

“This is not just wrong in a subjective sense it’s also wrong in an objective sense so congratulations on discounting a billion people as part of the universal collective and also just having bad taste.”

Twitterati called his opinions insane, “It asked for “controversial food opinions,” not insane ones.”

Some responders accused Nicbolas of cultural imperialism and termed his opinions as racist.

Kenyan poet and activist Shailja Patel said, “Today in white male solipsism.

From the school of “women comedians are terrible” and “non-white literatures are terrible” and “hip-hop is terrible” and “anything that doesn’t cater to me and reinforce my conviction that I am the center of the universe is terrible.

We who?”

“I don’t like mangoes. This is somewhat different than if I’d said ‘Jewish food is gross and we pretend it isn’t’ and a whole bunch of people chimed in with hatred for Jewish food that sounded eerily like the racist taunts that Jewish people regularly hear.

Also read: Google’s algorithms discriminate against women and people of colour

Some supporting voices too

Some users defended Nichols and said calling him a racist was dragging this too far.

“Imagine taking an opinion on food that’s exaggerated for humor this seriously,” posted a user.

“Isn’t this just an opinion on food? Which is something very subjective?”

Eventually, Nichols was forced to respond to the allegations of racism. “..24 hours of outrage about whether it’s racist to tease Americans about whether they *really* like Indian food from one comment in response to a call for controversial food takes is about as crazy as Twitter gets,” he tweeted.

This is, however, not the first time he has been criticised for his controversial opinion. Nichols was under fire for for his comments on young environmental activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter about how a 9-year-old child suffering from autism should not be dragged to “adult conversation” about climate change.

Nichols was earlier a part of Republican Party in America, which he left due to inadequate handling of the Supreme Court nomination of President Donald Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

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  1. Being a part of US Navy War College, he should advise use of “terrible” Indian food as a weapon against the enemies of the US. Generally, the Americans are prone to see nothing beyond their noses.

    • Not that [white] Americans are NOT ignorant about most things beyond their borders, but this seems more like snatching opportunity for 5 minute fame. It is free, and the spotlight comes on just like the Eye of Sauron.

  2. Indian food – a small wedge of it in fact, with which I started life – works well for me. Others are free to stay with what they like. I doubt if even 5% of the world’s population really overcomes tastes and preferences embedded into its DNA. That is different from enjoying a particular dish associated with one sort of cuisine.

  3. Diligent, exhaustive field reporting and leg-work. On a very important, policy-level topic. Should Niti Aayog be instructed by the honorable Supreme Court to direct the Food & Agriculture ministry to educate the HRD taste-buds? What do mouth-runner Markandeya Katju and Padma Bhushan Prashant Bhushan twit about this matter?

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