Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Is there a more repulsive phrase in the English vernacular than 'decaf spice chai latte'?

I was sitting in a coffee shop in Brighton when I over heard the order being called out. 'One decaf, spiced, chai latte'.
It upset me, I've had the pleasure of drinking quite a lot of chai over the years. From the Bangladeshi kitchen porters at Ashdown who used to brew up strong breakfast tea with black pepper, cardamon and milk in the afternoon, to the chai wallahs who stalk the streets and trains of Northern India doling out thick milky spiced shots of caffeinated goodness. Waxed paper cups scrunched up and dropped into the nearest bin (well gutter), hot days, hotter tea. Marsala chai. I'd go so far as to suggest that there's an entire society founded upon it.
And then we have 'decaf spiced chai lattes', I can think of no better example of the misappropriation of other cultures customs and then the whole sale raping them of any integrity and truthfulness.
Actually this touches on something a little deeper. The disrespect or otherwise of different cultures food traditions upon importation. Obviously there is a necessary degree of evolution that takes place when a recipe is exported. The basic ingredients may no longer be exactly the same, a little like Chinese whispers, but with food.
However, when a recipe is treated more as a signifier of the degree of cultural broadness of your marketing department, and thus is redesigned to fit into the schema of your mass reproduced coffee shop empire I stop accepting it.
It's not fucking masala chai, it's a shitty spiced and artificially sweetened tea concentrate that you add to foamed milk. Please in future refer to it as such.

1 comment:

gergelywine said...

Well, this is the situation, when the one asking for this rubbish, would never understand what was the reason behind your high level pedagogical approach of running at him/her and beating the hell outta him/her whit a shovel. "Do you have soy milk?" "Sorry mademoiselle, we are a french brasserie, not a fuckin urban hippy colony..."