While we love fast food restaurants for providing easy and quick access to our favorite foreign dishes, some folks will still crave to try the real deal. It could be curiosity and the willingness to explore your dining options, but at some point, you’ll really want to try eating something authentic.
Fortunately, the USA is a melting pot of different cultures, so you don’t really have to fly out to grab a bite of an authentic dish. You can easily find some great restaurants that offer such fare in most major cities. If you live in an area with a notable immigrant population, you might not even have to look far and wide to get a bite of the authentic version of your favorite foreign dish.
In this day and age, the internet is full of directories (such as PriceListo) that showcase unique and authentic restaurants along-side the more traditional chains.
But is the search for authentic cuisine really worth it? Let’s look at the pros and cons to help you decide.
Pro: You’ll get to try something new.
If you’re one who loves to try new kinds of food, dining in an authentic cuisine joint will be very exciting. They can certainly offer you something different. Depending on what you know about the history and culture the cuisine is from, you might even be surprised by what you’ll get to taste.
Con: If you’re eating locally, you still can’t be guaranteed that it’s authentic.
There’s a big debate on what ‘authenticity’ really means when it comes to food. There’s really no definition of what you can consider authentic, especially when you’re consuming it abroad.
Does it refer to the faithfulness of the dish to the its original recipe? As the original ingredients may not be available where you are, does it mean that substitutions make the recipe inauthentic? How about the preparation? Are natives the only ones who can prepare their own cuisines for it to be considered as the real deal?
With the murkiness of the definition of the term ‘authentic’, it can really be difficult to determine whether you’ll be enjoying similar to what folks from other parts of the world consume on a regular basis.
Pro: A lot of authentic cuisine eateries have very affordable price tags.
Lots of immigrants struggle with low income so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their eateries also come with very friendly price tags. This, however, is the case only if you plan on going to a local eatery and not an actual restaurant.
Foreign cuisine restaurants are an entirely different case. They can get very pricey if their authenticity includes the use of original ingredients. Importing items that aren’t available in the US can get pricey and that will be reflected in the menu.
If you’re cool with dining in casual, neighborhood diners, though, you don’t have to worry about the price tag that much. As these places cater to immigrants, they tend to come with very friendly price tags.
Con: Not all of these places are very Instagrammable.
One of the allures of eating authentic cuisine is the fact that you can brag about it on the ‘gram. However, not a lot of authentic eateries are very Instagrammable. Most of them don’t even have a lot of decor aside from a few posters from their native land.
While they have a leg up in the competition with their food, a lot of these places don’t bother decorating because they only aim to feed their fellow countrymen. Their businesses are created to provide comfort and community to their fellow immigrants so they don’t really have to jazz up their eateries. They already have a loyal target market, so aesthetics aren’t necessarily their priority.
Con: The places with social media-friendly interiors can get pricey.
If you really want to share the plate of your kebab, adobo, or peri-peri chicken on the internet and make sure that the background looks nice, you might need to pay a premium. Usually, the authentic places that also have Instagrammable interiors come with hefty price tags.
This isn’t exactly a bad thing. Their prices sometimes also guarantee seasonal specials that use imported ingredients. They can be quite hard to get your hands on, so they can be worth the splurge.
Con: Their restaurants are not centrally located most of the time.
In most cases, the authentic cuisine eateries aren’t located somewhere everyone usually goes to. It’s not always in the downtown area of every city or town. Most of the time, they’re confined in the areas where the concentration of their immigrant population lives. These places aren’t always accessible to everyone, so it might prove to be difficult for you to visit them often.
In many cases, going authentic can be more of a stressful ordeal than anything, so you might be better off with the dining options easily available to you. You can still go for it on special occasions. But as it might prove too much of a bother on a regular day, you always have other choices that can still address your hankering for foreign cuisine.