I’ve always seen myself as being a rather tolerant person. Especially in trying to understand the beliefs, lifestyles, and cultures of other people. Back in the 80s we would make an annual pilgrimage to the International Folk Festival in Cincinnati to help enrich our children’s cultural experiences. For us all, the favorite aspect of each festival was the food.
Every ethnic group would have an area from which they prepared and vended examples of their nation’s cuisine. For a few dollars one could eat their way around the world and wind up with a satisfied soul and a case of global heartburn.
Looking back I’m pretty sure my time was mostly spent exchanging greenbacks for food with the Italians and other Mediterranean cultures. There’s not much that comes from the Italian boot I don’t love. And Greek desserts like baklava are to me like heroin to a junkie.
The geographical region I seemed to have little or no attraction to was South Central Asia, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan specifically. I would walk by their food booths, stop and look at the offerings, and decide it all looked the same. In my mind’s eye I recall it all having a yellow or orange hue and looked like some form of potato salad without the potatoes. Whether correct or not, I concluded that the colors were due to the amount of curry powder the dish contained.
I really don’t know what curry is. I’ve read about it, heard TV chefs talk about it, observed many super market products labeled “curried,” and in the spice section you can buy a powder called curry. There seems to be lots of versions of curry but every curried dish I’ve tried had a flavor that I didn’t care for.
Until recently, and to my knowledge, I had never eaten anything professionally prepared that was curried. A few nights ago my wife and I had a chance to sample some curried chicken prepared by a chef who was very familiar with cuisines that use the spice. I was hoping this would be different and my whole world food view would be expanded.
Was it? Well, let the word go forth, I do not like curry. I don’t care if it came from Heinz and was labeled Curried Pork and Beans or whether it was prepared by a professional and experienced chef, I don’t like curry. The list of things I’ve given the “old college try” and still didn’t like has grown by one. I don’t like liver or organ meats, I don’t like salmon, I don’t like raw fish even if it’s called sashimi and overpriced, I don’t like Limburger cheese, I don’t like sweet tarts, I have no further interest in trying anything that taste like chicken other than chicken, I don’t like raw oysters or clams and trying to gag one down seems senseless, and now, I’m adding curry to the list.
Now, having come out against curry opens the door to all those who love it to tell me, “You just haven’t had it done correctly.” That’s the way it’s been all my life with liver. Liver and onions usually smells great and has a certain visual appeal. But, once a fork full passes my lips, it just won’t be swallowed. I have no idea how many times I’ve tried some guy’s wife’s or mother’s liver and onions, the results are the same, I don’t like liver. It’s been years since I gave someone’s version of L&O a try. That door has closed, that train has left the station.
About curry, while having said I don’t like it I’m not sure I want to slam the door completely. Maybe I’ll leave that door slightly ajar. It’s just difficult to accept that almost 1.2 billion Indians, and my friend Norman Anderson, could be so wrong about something.