Spicy Stereotype- PART I

Ring of Fire
Many of us view stereotypes as profoundly negative, viewing them as largely offensive or derogatory perceptions of a certain class of individuals.  But the official definition of stereotype is, “a widely held, but fixed image or idea of a particular type of person,” which could be positive, negative, or neutral. While I’m sure you’re aware of a number of positive and negative stereotypes, what about the neutral ones? The ideas that are associated with a certain group of people that don’t necessarily cause offense or self-satisfied pleasure? For instance, take the neutral stereotype that all Indians enjoy immensely spicy food.

As an Indian who doesn’t enjoy incredibly spicy food,  I must say that this perception does not apply to the entire Indian demographic. Don’t be too surprised. Perhaps it’s because my parents never induced me to build a resistance to extreme spice, consistently feeding me the milder of Indian cuisine as a child. But I don’t really blame them.

I’ve never enjoyed unreasonably spicy food, finding that it obscures the taste. Indeed, my aversion to hot and spicy food has only been strengthened with multiple visits to Indian restaurants and the homes of well-meaning relatives.

I remember once my parents and I were drawn to Paradise Biryani Pointe, an Indian restaurant that unsurprisingly specialized in biryani. In spite its simple nature, a mixed rice dish filled with vegetables, spices, and meat, my father’s colleagues were all abuzz for it.

“Oh really you must go with your family!”

“Their biryani is incredible!”

“Yes, yes! The rice! The vegetables! The spices!”

Not one to shirk the experience of excellent cuisine, my dad took my mother and me to the illustrious restaurant the next weekend.

Excited to finally try the evidently heavenly mixture of rice and vegetables, we ordered a plate of vegetarian biryani to split amongst ourselves. Aware of my painfully low tolerance, my parents had even asked for the “Level 1” spice option. Slightly embarrassed for my chronic aversion to heat, I shrunk in my seat.

In spite of my own insecurity, my parents and our waiter thankfully took no notice of me. Taking a few quick notes, the waiter promptly nodded and rushed to the kitchen.

Will the biryani be as good as Anusha’s father’s friends say? Will the food set her heart or tongue on fire? Find out tomorrow. To be continued…

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