LIVE TO EAT with SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Gustation and the gustatory delights of Indian cuisine, not excepting chicken tikka masala.

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I’ve always considered Indian food (as opposed to Indiana food) a gustatory delight, although to be fair, brain sandwiches remain an option when you’re in Evansville — and in truth, I’ll eat just about anything.

Gustatory is an adjective, from the noun gustation.

gustation [guh-stey-shuh n]

noun

1. the act of tasting.
2. the faculty of taste.

Origin of gustation

1590-1600; < Latin gustātiōn- (stem of gustātiō), equivalent to gustāt(us) (past participle of gustāre to taste) + -iōn- -ion

If tasting engenders enjoyment, it is attacked with gusto — also deriving from gustation.

Gusto ˈɡəstō

noun, plural gustoes

1. hearty or keen enjoyment, as in eating or drinking, or in action or speech in general: to dance with gusto. Synonyms: enthusiasm, delight, relish, zest, spirit, fervor.
2. individual taste or liking: The boy is an imaginative charmer, with a gusto for storytelling.

We often come across this quote by Frank Zappa, as taken from his 1989 book, The Real Frank Zappa Book.

Every major industrialized nation has A BEER (you can’t be a Real Country unless you have A BEER and an airline—it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need A BEER).

In like fashion, it is my belief that New Albany can’t be a Real City without an Indian restaurant, which isn’t necessarily to say a curry house, although this distinction might matter if you’re a resident of the United Kingdom.

While reading this explanation of the similarities and difference, I was struck by the convergences between the experience of Indian food in the UK and Chinese food in America, where generations regarded the chop suey house as a cultural exemplar (see BOOK REVIEW: Chop Suey – or how Chinese food came to be taken for granted in America).

Allow me to conclude by saying that we need Indian food in New Albany. It needn’t be gourmet-level or rigorously authentic; we can build up to it. We’re starting from zero, and a curry house with chicken tikka masala works for me. If a pub might be attached to it, all the better.

What’s The Difference Between A Curry House And An Indian Restaurant?, by Maanvi Singh (NPR)

“I hate the term curry house,” says Ranjit Mathrani, who co-owns Veeraswamy restaurant in London. “We are not a curry house.”

Veeraswamy has been around since 1926 — it is London’s oldest surviving Indian restaurant. Founded by Edward Palmer — the great-grandson of an English general and an Indian princess — the restaurant served not quite Indian food, but an Anglicized version of it, catering to an English clientele that craved something a bit spicy, but not overly so.

But when Mathrani, along with his wife, Namita Panjabi, and his sister-in-law, Camellia Panjabi, bought Veeraswamy in 1997, they completely overhauled the menu, making it their mission to serve what they call “real Indian food” — dishes you’d actually find in Indian homes.

“Our starting point is that the term ‘Indian food’ is actually only a lazy way of people describing the food of a continent,” Mathrani says. India has dozens of distinct cuisines, he points out. “It would be like describing French, German, Italian and Spanish cuisines as ‘European food.'”

Don’t even get him started on Brits who like to say they’re “going out for a curry.”

Of course, Mathrani is correct in pointing out that the concept of an Indian curry is an entirely British invention. “And it goes back a long way,” says historian Lizzie Collingham, author of Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors and The Hungry Empire. All the way back to the 1600s, when British East India Company merchants first encountered it …

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