India Today - - LEISURE - —Moeena Halim

Ihate when things be­come an in­sti­tu­tion,” chef David Chang de­clares in the episode ded­i­cated to bar­be­cue on his lat­est TV show Ugly De­li­cious. He’s talk­ing about the in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion of spe­cific foods and cuisines and how they en­cour­age parochial­ism on your plate. It may seem like a harsh state­ment, but it’s one Chang at­tempts to jus­tify through the en­tire eight episodes of the show, where he along with his Lucky Peach co-founder and former NYT food writer Peter Mee­han dis­cuss big Amer­i­can favourites, in­clud­ing pizza, tacos and fried chicken.

Although it takes you into gourmet kitchens as much as it does into hole-in-the-wall eater­ies, food trucks and home kitchens in China or Mex­ico, this is not a food show that re­lies on pretty pictures. Chang has a se­ri­ous ques­tion to ask—does au­then­tic­ity trump tasti­ness? Ev­ery episode, stitched to­gether through fan­tas­tic use of an­i­ma­tion styles and even com­edy sketches, has chefs, food writ­ers, in­dus­try ex­perts dish out food for thought. Whether it is while defin­ing pizza (what’s the outer limit for top­pings? Can what Chef Ryu Yoshimura of Savoy, Tokyo, serves be called fu­sion pizza or sushi?) or liken­ing Chi­nese Pek­ing duck to bar­be­cue, the show al­ways pro­vides cul­tural con­text. For a non-Amer­i­can viewer, this can be eye-open­ing, such as un­der­stand­ing why black people in Amer­ica shy away from bar­be­cue and wa­ter­melon. Many of the chefs fea­tured on the show are Chang’s bud­dies. The home cook­ing episode fea­tures not only Chang’s fam­ily at Thanks­giv­ing, but also Noma chef Rene Redzepi’s Copen­hagen home where his wife Na­dine is in charge of the kitchen. With only eight episodes to the show, we can’t help but hope there will be another sea­son.

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