Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten has apologized for a piece he wrote last week about his eating habits, in which he inaccurately described Indian cuisine as “based entirely on one spice.”
In the August 19 piece titled “You can’t make me eat these foods,” Weingarten ticked through a number of foods at which he turned his nose up such as Old Bay seasoning, hazelnuts and anchovies, among others. Regarding Indian food, he wrote that “If you like Indian curries, yay, you like Indian food!”
The illustration at the top of the column depicts a mustached man in a bib literally turning his nose up at spoonful of food being offered to him.
“I don’t get it, as a culinary principle,” he added. “It is as though the French passed a law requiring every dish to be slathered in smashed, pureed snails.”
Those statements sparked backlash with critics saying it’s inaccurate and dismissive. Indian American author and model Padma Lakshmi, who hosts Bravo’s “Top Chef” and Hulu’s “Taste the Nation,” tweeted, “What in the white nonsense™️ is this?” Indian American actress and screenwriter Mindy Kaling tweeted, “You don’t like a cuisine? Fine. But it’s so weird to feel defiantly proud of not liking a cuisine. You can quietly not like something too.”
Weingarten tweeted an apology on Monday and acknowledged that his column was “insulting.”
“From start to finish plus the illo, the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant d—head I am,” Weingarten tweeted. “I should have named a single Indian dish, not the whole cuisine, & I do see how that broad-brush was insulting. Apologies.(Also, yes, curries are spice blends, not spices.)”
After this story was published, Weingarten told CNN Business that he thought “people would not take this column seriously because I was not taking myself seriously.”
“That was a miscalculation, and what I do realize that I did not realize before — I should have — was that the item on Indian food was different from all the others,” he added. “All the others were specific foods. Even tongue in cheek, I was not condemning an entire ethnic cuisine, and I think that made it stand out. I do understand why people are upset by it.”
The Post also amended the column with a correction to the top and removed the inaccuracies.
“A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Indian cuisine is based on one spice, curry, and that Indian food is made up only of curries, types of stew,” the correction reads. “In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes. The article has been corrected.”
A Post spokesperson declined to comment beyond sharing the correction.