Something I never quite understood until recently is why we have many Indian restaurants in this country, but so few Pakistani or Bengladeshi. That’s hardly the case in the U.K. where one sees Pakistani curry shops next door to those selling food said to be Indian. I wondered if it was that we have hardly anyone in the U.S. restaurant industry from Pakistan. That’s not true, however.
Here is what’s happening:
Pakistanis are calling their restaurants Indian because Americans are familiar with the term. Pakistan is just too confusing.
In a similar vein, many Japanese restaurants in the United States are, in fact, owned by Korean or Chinese. That’s not because it’s confusing. It’s because Americans will pay more for Japanese food compared to what is spent in Korean or Chinese restaurants.
My favorite example of mislabeling is Sabra, which is the Israeli term for a person born in Israel. It’s also a terrific falafel shop in Harvard Square owned by Lebanese. They kept the name, after buying the place from an Israeli. Why not? I bet more people drop into Sabra than a joint named Beiruti.
I just hope the talks between India and Pakistan mean a better appreciation of their unique gastronomies.
Curry powder & leaves: