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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Authenticity

Here's a question – what's the point in authenticity?

That's a strange question for someone who loves his food, you might think; that flies in the face of accepted foodie wisdom you may even say, but indulge me a little on this one.

I have spent most of this year flirting with Northern Asian, Chinese and South East Asian food and I have been loving it – especially all the Vietnamese dishes I had during the muggy part of summer, but as I have never eaten in a Vietnamese restaurant, let alone visited the country, how do I know if the flavours were authentic? Simply, I don't. That said my lemongrass beef salads were great and my "Korean barbeque" pork was amazing – and this is my point; I created these dishes using inspiration from Asia but let's face it: my Mongolian hotpot will have been very different to one eaten on the Steppes and therefore not authentic but was it any less enjoyable? No.

And so, why do we get hung up on authenticity; if something is enjoyable can't we accept that? I've come to the realisation that inspiration and influence is more important than authenticity and that while the Pho in Ho Chi Min city is probably far better than mine, as there's no chance of me popping over with 2 young kids in tow I shouldn't forgo my still enjoyable approximate facsimile.

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