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Indians’ food passion matched by generosity, says UK historian as ‘dumb idli tweet’ goes viral

British historian Edward Anderson has been flooded with idli advice and offers since he labelled the food item ‘boring’ on Twitter.

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New Delhi: British lecturer Edward Anderson could not have predicted the storm he was setting off when he posted a tweet describing idlis, the South Indian culinary staple that is popular with taste buds across the nation, as “the most boring things in the world”.

Anderson’s tweet was a reply to a survey by food app Zomato India, started 4 October, that asked users to name “that one dish you could never understand why people like so much”. There were many controversial answers to the tweet — biryani and rajma being prime examples — but none probably elicited the kind of response that Anderson’s did.

The tweet has since led Anderson, who is married to a Malayali woman, to be inundated with suggestions on the right ways to eat idli, a breakfast invitation from Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, and even a caricature in a Malayalam newspaper.

“Food for Indian communities overseas is very important: It’s a bond both within communities — and with the homeland — for so many people. I suppose that’s why this topic might have resonated with Indians around the world,” Anderson told ThePrint in an email interview.

Anderson is a lecturer in history at Northumbria University in England, and has focused his research on contemporary history of India and the Indian diaspora at large. 

Since his tweet, Anderson has been offered “delicious idlis” by many people, with Tharoor even handing out advice on the proper ways to cook the steamed cakes.

“If I took up everyone’s offers to provide me with delicious idlis — from all corners of India & beyond — I wouldn’t have to cook or buy food for a year! It’s confirmation that Indian people’s passion for food is matched by their generosity,” Anderson said.

Also Read: Indian food fourth most popular in the world, a study of cuisine trade finds

‘Tharoor clearly loves idlis’

On Twitter, Anderson has expressed surprise at the traction his  “dumb idli tweet” tweet gained, with a BBC report also linking it to the US elections (because Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris has Chennai roots).

Once bitten, twice shy, Anderson was reluctant to offer an opinion when asked about the extremely sensitive subject of vegetarian biryani (“isn’t it just pulav?” incensed critics often ask). 

“I may have an opinion on this, but I think I’ve courted quite enough culinary controversy for now,” he said.

Asked about Tharoor’s invitation, he said the MP was being “humorous and hyperbolic”. “He clearly loves idlis and feels like he has to stand up for the culture of his region, and rightfully so!” he added. 

Also Read: ‘Indian food is terrible’: Why are we threatened by a foreigner’s opinion of our food?


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  1. Idlys are definitely filling. what u r talking is not about filling it’s called dumping in the stomachs and ofcourse we don’t dump, we fill our plate with idlys which fills our palate. If we start to give our honest opinions about all the other stupid foreign lands foods, the complaints will give u ppl lot of stomach upsets and it might even burst

  2. Idli is not original south Indian dish. It originates from Indonesia. Refer to an article long time back in the Hindu
    Author balasubraniam

  3. Says someone on internet having hatred against a particular country, wont be surprised if you are from Pakistan.

  4. @Farkhan. Wow! Where you started and where you ended. I am sure that you are not an idli.
    In case you are not aware, tastes in food are highly individual. There are thousands of Indians who do not like idlis, or for that matter any other popular Indian culinary dish. It does not reflect on them being small/ large hearted persons. Just in case you have not yet realized this important fact. Tastes are subjective and very individual. It does not reflect on a nation’s “personality”.

  5. Anderson spoke the truth. Idlis are for filling the stomach, not please the palate. The current regime’s jingoism have created an atmosphere, which has little room for truth. For one, Indian passion is lot more spice than real food, and two, in general people and especially the cooked food vendors, upmarket restaurants to food carts by the road side are so stingy with the portions they serve. Worst of all they charge a bomb just for the bread. In most countries around the world, bread is free. The truth is Indians by nature are small hearted people.

    • R u saying that fake peroxide blondes serving dead animals marinated in spices is being large hearted….we r happy being small hearted…1947 till today tiny minds remain tiny,.poor u

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