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How authentic are Toronto's ethnic cuisines to people from?

wild goose chase

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..the old country? (Whoops... cut off that title of the thread here)

I know it's been said that North American versions of ethnic cuisine are modified in ways different from in the "old country". Now I'm sure this is true of say, the fast food chains you'd find in food courts in the malls around the city, as well as restaurants like Frankie Tomatto's or Mandarin, but I'd imagine that many of the smaller mom and pop stores located in the strip malls of the city and its boroughs/suburbs, and catering to a local community might serve what many would consider more "authentic" cuisine.

As Toronto is half-foreign born, there must be a large percentage of people whose tastes and memories of home cooking are still reflected in their restaurants. This might be less so in cities where people are farther removed from recent immigration (for example, US cities where the only "Italian" cuisine is distinctively Italian-American cuisine that Italians from Italy don't eat normally).

So, overall, would you say that many of Toronto's restaurants labelled as "ethnic" are recognizable to someone from the old country -- say, if tourists, visitors, or someone who just stepped off a plane from overseas were to come to dine, would they acknowledge what they see as "their own" food reflected here? For example, would a tourist from Greece go to the Taste of the Danforth, or an Indian or Chinese businessman go to the plazas in Brampton or Pacific mall and find something more or less exactly as made "back home"?

Are there some cuisines in Toronto that are mostly modified versus some that reflect more closely their place of origin?
 

jje1000

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I think generally speaking the less period of time a large immigrant population has to integrate before they can easily travel back and forth/communicate with the homeland, the more 'authentic' the food. Basically a dominant culture exerts pressure on an isolated one and influences it, but easily accessible transportation and communications with the home culture can counterbalance it.

Kind of corresponds to the era of immigration:

- 1900s-1970s- Italians, Greeks, early Chinese immigration- more modified cuisines (simplification of menus and recipes).
- 1980s-2010s- Indian, Carribean, Arabic, Fillipino, Chinese immigration- more 'authentic' cuisines (recipes and menus more similar to those in the homelands)

On the other hand, I think there are outliers in older immigrant cuisines that aren't as popular with the dominant culture or that are similar enough that little change needs to occur (i.e. Hungarian, Portuguese, Russian, etc.). You see small authentic restaurants and such scattered around, but I think that those restaurants cater predominantly towards the ethnic community.

And of course, I think that in most Chinese/Indian restaurants, the chefs still know how to make westernized recipes like Ginger Beef or Butter Chicken, in case the Anglo-Canadian palette still wants it.

But generally speaking I think that the second generation that grown up here and has gone to Canadian university will have a largely westernized palette regardless of culture.
 
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prosperegal

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I think we're beginning to see some second generation cuisines. Mean Bao, for example, takes some traditional Chinese dishes and modifies them with other ingredients such as quinoa.
 

wild goose chase

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I think we're beginning to see some second generation cuisines. Mean Bao, for example, takes some traditional Chinese dishes and modifies them with other ingredients such as quinoa.
Would the old school Chinese-Canadian cuisine of the 20th century or earlier, with the chop suey, fortune cookies etc. then be considered "first generation" Chinese-Canadian? Those kinds of restaurants (aside from chains and food courts, such as Manchu Wok, Mandarin etc.) have become less common (an example that has stood the test of time seems to be Sea Hi restaurant in North York), though still the predominant type in smaller towns in Canada, have long been outnumbered by more "traditional" Chinese from the post 1970s waves in the GTA I'd imagine. But then as you mention another round of contemporary fusion/modification is taking place once more.
 

Bradley Libralesso

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In my opinion a lot are influenced by where it came from, but many are not authentic as they change their taste to a North American palate. I can tell you from the counties I have been to for extended periods of time, the cuisine there tastes very little like their counterparts here. I wish they didn't because I don't really care for the North American palate, but that is the nature of cuisine. Nothing stays "Authentic" it always changes due to popular tastes, availability of ingredients, etc.
 

Admiral Beez

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This led me to think of the current discourse on cultural appropriation.

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-dark-side-of-poutine-canada-taking-credit-for-quebec-dish-amounts-to-cultural-appropriation-academic-says
https://www.attn.com/stories/17361/heres-why-someone-made-list-restaurants-fight-cultural-appropriation
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4538398/Burrito-shop-shuts-accused-stealing-culture.html

Is it necessary to have cultural roots to the food you're selling? I buy my fish and chips here, http://www.britishfishandchips.ca/ and I've never once wondered why the folks behind the counter are SE Asian, not of British-descent.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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This led me to think of the current discourse on cultural appropriation.

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-dark-side-of-poutine-canada-taking-credit-for-quebec-dish-amounts-to-cultural-appropriation-academic-says
https://www.attn.com/stories/17361/heres-why-someone-made-list-restaurants-fight-cultural-appropriation
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4538398/Burrito-shop-shuts-accused-stealing-culture.html

Is it necessary to have cultural roots to the food you're selling? I buy my fish and chips here, http://www.britishfishandchips.ca/ and I've never once wondered why the folks behind the counter are SE Asian, not of British-descent.
It's silly - and it's even sillier when it's being portrayed as white vs. POC in the case of Portland - like, Chinese (or any other POC) can't culturally appropriate other cuisines? The agitators clearly have way too much time on their hands.

AoD
 

prosperegal

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Where are the news articles about Thai restaurants not being run by Thais?

There's probably more Thai restaurants in Canada than there are Thai people in Canada.
Thai restaurants tend to be run by Chinese in the GTA. And sushi places are often run by Chinese or Koreans. Anyway, I'm SICK of all those cultural appropriation debates. It's getting a bit extreme.
 

Eug

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And of course, I think that in most Chinese/Indian restaurants, the chefs still know how to make westernized recipes like Ginger Beef or Butter Chicken, in case the Anglo-Canadian palette still wants it.
It should be noted that in some Chinese restaurants, the menu in Chinese on the wall is not the same one as the printed menu in English. So you can have non-authentic and authentic in the same restaurant, partially dependent upon which menu you order from.

But generally speaking I think that the second generation that grown up here and has gone to Canadian university will have a largely westernized palette regardless of culture.
Not sure that's true, since they may have grown up with more traditional 1st generation parents that cook at home the traditional way and choose which restaurants they go to. So what I mean by this is that they may still be able to appreciate authentic ethnic cuisine, even though they also have a fully developed western palate.

I think your statement may be more true for 3rd generation families. The third generation is also be more likely to enter into a mixed marriage too. By the third generation some may be starting to lose the appreciation of what is authentic.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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It should be noted that in some Chinese restaurants, the menu in Chinese on the wall is not the same one as the printed menu in English. So you can have non-authentic and authentic in the same restaurant, partially dependent upon which menu you order from.


Not sure that's true, since they may have grown up with more traditional 1st generation parents that cook at home the traditional way and choose which restaurants they go to. So what I mean by this is that they may still be able to appreciate authentic ethnic cuisine, even though they also have a fully developed western palate.

I think your statement may be more true for 3rd generation families. The third generation is also be more likely to enter into a mixed marriage too. By the third generation some may be starting to lose the appreciation of what is authentic.
You don't even need to wait till the third generation - what is "authentic" can change within a generation when compared to contemporary cuisines from the home country.

AoD
 

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