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Book Review: Curry: A Global History (Colleen Taylor Sen)

This short book is an interesting read, even if it’s really just a summary of the different impacts of Indian cooking spices around the world. The story isn’t new, of course—it’s well known that the migration of Indians around the world has resulted in a wide range of hybrid cuisines, some with very little resemblance to actual Indian cuisine. But reading details, such as the huge popularity of something called “currywurst” in Germany, brings home the global impact of what are generically called curries.

The rush of information presented, much with little detail or background, sometimes overwhelms the reader. But it’s interesting. And the reader is exposed to true diversity: such things as the fusion of Indian and Mexican cuisines into “Hindu Mexicans” in the early 20th Century Sacramento Valley (mostly Sikh men marrying local women). This true diversity among human cultures is powerful, and the book shows (though this is not at all the author’s intent) how excellence on a small or great scale can result.

But what is most interesting is not the truism that excellence can result from human interchange. Rather, what “Curry” indirectly shows is how this organic diversity, resulting from the interplay of actual people striving to do and reach their best, contrasts with the false “diversity” pushed today in corporate America and academic America. This false diversity is not organic and does not produce excellence. Instead, it is the forced granting of unearned benefits, at the expense of the deserving, to favored underqualified racial (and other) minorities, producing not excellence, but mediocrity and decay. (Of course, the Indians who are the focus of “Curry” are not granted such favored status, but rather openly discriminated against with other Asians.) All the while, anyone who wants to keep his job and not be called names must bizarrely praise this waste of human capability as the supposed path to excellence. No wonder it’s been nearly as many years since we went to the moon as it was between the moon landing and Kitty Hawk. But at least we met our diversity targets!

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