Coming to India, almost every cuisine is spicy for sure. At least I don’t know of one that is not. Indians grow up immersed in spicy food and can’t live without it. And to be honest once your palette gets used to spicy flavor it’s hard to go back to bland food. Anecdotally I’ve heard many westerns complain about blandness of their food once they are used to Indian flavor.
Very few Indian cuisines dual up “hot” knob. Andhra Pradesh cuisine is an example of that. It’s almost at the limit of not killing the flavor.
So to summarize about India, we almost universally love spicy food. Some of us like it hot too
If something is flavored with other spices, it's "spiced." e.g. "pumpkin (pie) spiced latte" or "jerk spiced."
For example, English Fuggle hops are typically described as "spicy", when the spice flavors in question are more along the lines of clove or allspice and not capsicum.
I disagree. You're describing the difference between "spicy" (e.g., cayenne) and "warm spiced" or "spiced" (e.g., cumin). When a dish tastes of cumin, one doesn't call it "spicy", they use a different term.
So, how do you call that, if not spicy? It's a genuine question because English is not my first language and I always refer to food that's heavy on spices as "spicey", because I don't know any other word for it.
Many dishes contain a lot of spices (nutmeg, cardamom, clove, etc.) but they aren't considered "spicy" because there's no sensation of heat/burning. These dishes are "spiced" but not "spicy" (in English).
It doesn't necessarily make sense, but that is just how common usage has evolved.
Truth be told, in Greek also, where we have lots of dishes with many spices (and some which are made with specific spices, like pastitsada) we don't have a special word for "food with lots of spices" either. We just use the circumlocution.
I think it is an ambiguous category. At least to native (American) English speakers and heathens like me. The only evidence I can offer of this is that in my language culture, I routinely hear "spicy hot", and often enough when one should simply say "spicy", anticipate the question "spicy hot"?
That qualifies as a circumlocution to me. BTW, I didn't think you Greeks learned Latin since all the classy Romans wanted to speak Greek ;-)
>> That qualifies as a circumlocution to me. BTW, I didn't think you Greeks learned Latin since all the classy Romans wanted to speak Greek ;-)
Oh, actually I learned some Latin in high school, most of which is now forgotten. But, I was surprised by that turn of phrase myself: I was trying to translate from the Greek in my head to English and suddendly a bit of Latin fell out :)
Edit: Also, to be fair, I love surprising my native English speaker interlocutors with weird little bits of English they never use and which I know because I first learned English not as my everyday language, but from books and textbooks. It helps that some of those weird bits are well, Greek. e.g. I surprised my thesis advisor the other day when I used the Greek plural of "lemma", "lemmata" which turns out to be perfectly correct English, although it's not often used. My advisor suggested I refrain from using such obscure words in papers since most reviewers would probably be confused by them and be annoyed at me- and you don't want to piss off reviewers!
You are actually correct, it's the English that use the word wrong.
Spicey should be a measure of the variety of spices used... A very small % of people from spice rich countries would consider pepper a primary or default "spice".
I suspect this misuse is due to the early 12th-16th century English population's ignorance of the complexity of global spice markets and black pepper being one of the first popularized spices once trade routes expanded.
Peppery would make much more sense.
I might also call it spicy because of the chili pepper.
India is also one of the few places I've been to where chilis are regularly used for breakfast dishes and even drinks like aam ka panna (spicy green mango juice).
To reply that "hotness is relative" without clarifying which usage of the word you mean or implying that your friend in the anecdote even made that clarification is exactly what the person you are replying to is complaining about.
This limitation of colloquial English where the word "spicy" is overloaded to refer to all three axis of "spicy" at the same time and hot is also (though less frequently) overloaded in the same manner is exactly what we're discussing.
You can have something that's not very "hot" be very "spicy" on one of the other two axis. Try eating a tablespoon of cinnamon or that Chinese mustard that comes with takeout.
European food that is "spicy" on one axis but nearly zero on the other two is rare hence why this overloading exists and isn't really a problem when discussing food from anywhere that doesn't have a rainy season.
There are also many chili peppers that are sweet and mild - Ancho Chiles, Poblanos, Aji Panca being examples. There are also many Indian regional cuisines that are spicy but not hot - Punjabi and West Bengal come to mind.
However, a dish incorporating them isn't usually referred to as spicy in my experience. Unless it also contains chili pepper.
- kadhai (Indian wok)
- Kari patta: a spicy leaf, staple in South Indian cuisine (and very tasty)
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kadhi
> The English name is derived from asa, a latinised form of Persian azā, meaning "resin", and Latin foetidus meaning "smelling, fetid", which refers to its strong sulfurous odour
The German names are even less flattering:
> Asant (Ferula assa-foetida), auch bekannt als Stinkasant oder Teufelsdreck - "stinking asant" or "devil's dirt"...
Interesting that it was not mentioned in the older recipes in the article.
Yet it is a useful term - as someone else has mentioned - to refer to meat/veg in spicy gravy sauce associated with certain countries. Just because it's a word developed outside of India doesn't mean it isn't meaningful.
NB Jared Diamond's book Upheaval mentions how Japan reacted to a crisis in the 19th century by going out and seeking the best sources to copy - for naval matters that happened to be the Royal Navy and curry came with that:
That would be the Meiji Restoration, where the Japanese decided they were tired of being kicked around and were going to reform and westernize on their terms.
They chose to model their Navy off of the British, and their Army off of the Prussians (though in both cases they ended up with advisors from all over the place, like the US and Italy).
No evidence that they copied the British tradition for Pussers and regular rum rations.
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiji_Restoration and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rum_ration
The more relevant criticism of the word boils down to the facts that it doesn’t really mean anything to Indians, and that it’s meaning is so poorly defined that it barely means anything at all. The word can be used to refer to pretty much any Indian food, which is simply a poor categorization, and that use would wind up a lot of Indian people. The other use case is pretty much anything that has a spiced gravy. But a ragu uses spiced gravy as much as a butter chicken does, and most people wouldn’t call a ragu a curry. So it must be a spiced gravey with Asian ingredients, but a Japanese curry has more ingredients in common with a ragu than it does a saag paneer, also a lamb tagine dish uses a spiced gravy with Asian ingredients, and people wouldn’t call that a curry either.
Basically it’s a word that has no definition that would describe all of its different use cases.
Dumplings range from pierogies to xiaolongbao, sandwiches include monte cristos and cheesesteaks and fluffernutters, soup includes vichyssoise and miso and samgyetang.
Why do those words work, if they do?
Stepping sideways a bit... in New Delhi, menu names shift in a subtle way with the prominence of vegetarianism. In the UK or US, you might order a dish like "chicken with seasonal vegetables." In Delhi it's often reversed, they'll specify the exact meatless dish, Malai Kofta or Palak Paneer, but just say the side dish is "non-veg" without specifying whatever meat. That slight shift in emphasis really underscores the endless variety of things you can eat beyond meat, it makes plain how the generic Western conception of a meal through classic French courses can be incredibly narrow. However we ultimately come down on "curry," emphasizing meatless dishes seems like an example of food language that probably should have been heavily exported and hungrily adopted by the rest of the world. Even if you're not a vegetarian, treating meatless dishes as first-class citizens seems to add enormous diversity to any cuisine, and a ton more satisfaction in the eating.
A group of British outsiders who were in India because of the British Empire?
There are a lot of words borrowed from India still in use to this day squaddie for example being derived from 'swaddy' a type on Indian soldier
> To say using language to describe new things is colonial is frankly ridiculous.
They took a wide range of food, with very different characteristics, representing huge geographical and cultural spread, and reduced all of that to an anglicised word "curry".
"Curry is an anglicised form of the Tamil word kaṟi meaning 'sauce' or 'relish for rice' that uses the leaves of the curry tree (Murraya koenigii)."
This is a sort of definition that's intuitive to Indians.
The problem Indians have with foreign usages of "curry" are, I think, with them not respecting this definition, and using the word to refer to pretty much all Indian food. "Going to get some curry" sounds like you don't care about even the basic differences in the cuisine you're eating. That all said, I understand that I'm undermining my own argument. It's rather subtle to tell a curry apart from another Indian dish.
Indian people eat plenty of things aside from rice/roti + curries. You have kebabs, biryanis (rice baked with meats), sandwiches (from Vada Pav street food to everything else), noodles (Indo-Chinese cuisine), a million buttery, saccharine sweets, unique breakfast foods like dosas and idlis, and so so much more. How can you have a country the size of India with at least 20 major cuisines and languages, in a country with influences from East Africa, Central Asia, Tibet, South East Asia, and Western Europe, without tremendous culinary diversity?