The controversy surrounding Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten has officially spilled over to TikTok.
Weingarten, a humor writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recently came under fire due to an opinion piece titled “You can’t make me eat these foods.” In it, the writer listed a handful of foods he dislikes — including all Indian food, which he described as being “based entirely on one spice.” That spice, according to Weingarten, was “curry.”
In a now-viral clip, TikToker Pragadish Kalaivanan (@pragadishkalaivan) criticized the article, and pointed out specifically why the column has users “fuming.” Kalaivanan, who is Indian American, frequently posts recipe videos featuring Indian cuisine.
Kalaivanan began by reading several segments from Weingarten’s article while questioning his reasoning for each point.
“Are you out of your g*****n mind, Gene?” Kalaivanan asks after reading Weingarten’s “one spice” comment. “Who let this man be a food critic?”
“Indian food literally changes every few hundred miles,” Kalaivanan adds. “And if you do not know that … like, Gene, stop it.”
Kalaivanan also points out that curry is just a small portion of Indian cuisine and that calling “curry” a spice is wrong — since the term actually refers to a collection of spices, which vary widely between dishes and regions.
“Guess what, Gene? It’s not for you to get,” Kalaivanan says. “I mean, what kind of white-person-thinking-flour-is-a-spice b******t is this? Who let him write this?”
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It’s a point the Washington Post also acknowledged when the publication issued a correction in Weingarten’s column, stating, “In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes. The article has been corrected.”
Weingarten, for his part, responded to the backlash with a series of tweets, calling the column “insulting” and a “miscalculation.” He also wrote that while the piece was meant to be humourous, he should not have called out a single Indian dish.
From start to finish plus the illo, the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant d---head I am. 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.)
— Gene Weingarten (@geneweingarten) August 23, 2021
Overall, Kalaivanan was dissatisfied with Weingarten’s apology.
“These are the kinds of things that create microaggressions in daily life for [people of color],” Kalaivanan says near the clip’s end.
Plenty of TikTok commenters seemed to agree, as well.
“So it’s racism dressed up like satire?” one user wrote.
“Well he’s never had dosa, halwa or biryani … good, more for me!” another added.
“Legit any time a white person says they have a ‘sophisticated’ palate, it means they think salt and pepper are spicy and edgy,” another wrote.
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