ArticlesBon AppétitEditorialOpinionSpecial Issue

Embracing Inauthenticity

Written by: Connor Betterly


Some people get way too focused on making their food completely “authentic.” For them, everything has to be done the “traditional” way, using historically available ingredients and methods to produce foods from a specific cuisine. However, as a red-blooded American, I choose to reject those confines that would constrict my creativity, and instead opt to capitalize on the melting pot that is this country. Why fixate on making your food authentic … when you can instead focus on making it taste good?

If I want authentic Mexican food, I’ll head over to the local Chipotle, with their expertly-folded burritos and various varieties of beans. If I want authentic Chinese, I’ll make a trip to the Panda Express; you can’t just get an orange chicken anywhere else. But when I am the chef in my kitchen, what I say goes. If I want broccoli in my burrito, then by God, I will make it happen. If I want peas and carrots in my instant ramen, then it is as good as done. I am grateful to those who came up with the initial recipe for a dish, but please — you didn’t think it was finished, right? Leave it to me to determine how to perfect it.

Fries! There’s an example. I bought this air fryer for a reason, right? It would be a shame not to use it. So throw them in! The potato will taste amazing. Maybe I should add some cheese, too. Your recipe calls for pancetta? Bacon will do fine. There’s no need to take a picture for Instagram. In this moment, all that exists is me and my flavorful food.

And don’t even get me started on utensils. I have a cabinet which contains intuitive, stainless-steel forks, spoons, and knives, as God intended. At desperate times, I may make use of plastic cutlery, or even, though it pains me intensely, a spork, whose creation remains an accidental consequence of the universe. But if the food is too messy or inconvenient to eat with my hands, you will never see me use sticks to pick it up. Frankly, as a society, we are past that.

When I hone the blade of my Japanese knife (which makes such a cool sound) before cutting up a thawed “Italian” pizza and plating it on the “fine china” before cracking open a ”La Croix” (passion fruit flavor, if you must know), I could not be more proud to be an American. What do you mean, “appropriation?” This meal is my creation! No, I implore you to embrace inauthenticity. Welcome to my kitchen.

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