2 min read

WTF Is Authentic Food Anyway?

WTF Is Authentic Food Anyway?
Photo by Tai's Captures / Unsplash

This is something I think about often. It had always bugged me, but then I watched the first season of Ugly Delicious on Netflix when it came out a few years ago and David Chang really hit on this in the episode where he argues with other chefs that Domino's can be just as good as other pizza.

A Misused Adjective

Typically, when people say "authentic" food they are meaning it to be "traditional". Like the tacos in the stock photo at the top of this. But what Chang argues, and what finally made my years long annoyance click was that traditional and authentic are not the same thing.

An "authentic" soul food restaurant is in a gas station, with a chef named Bubba who is pushing 4 bills, is missing at least 3 teeth and matter how much he showers, he will always smell like grease. But Bubba puts his heart into everything he makes using the recipes memaw and grandpappy taught him when he was a kid.

In the big city there's a restaurant that has all the same menu items that Bubba has. It definitely is "traditional" southern food, but there's no authenticity to it - it's a stuffy corporate chain and it just doesn't hit the same.

So what makes it authentic?

Food is Like QB Play

Everything is in the intangibles. You can have a fusion restaurant (like 180 Tacos in Provo - or The Official Restaurant of GEHB Chino Bandido in Phoenix - that is 100%. Because like Bubba a careful craft goes into making it a unique experience. That is what makes it authentic.

All food got invented at some point, so why not now? Whether it is "traditional" or not, who cares.

We see the same thing with QBs  - you can have all the "traditional" tools - big arm, strong in the pocket, can make all the throws. But if you just don't have that intangible "it" - things aren't the same. You may get by, but you'll never flourish.

I think it's clear that Jaren Hall has "it". He is in his 2nd year at the helm and reports from Spring Ball is that he is taking the next step to being not just a QB but the unquestioned leader of the team.

He was nipping at Zach Wilson's heels in 2020 and pushed him that offseason before shutting it down due to his hip injury. Now we have to hope he stays healthy after missing 2 games this year. But everything is there in this offense to be authentically BYU - high scoring, and non-traditional for what everybody else is doing around them.

So don't worry if he runs more than he throws, or throws more than he runs. Ignore if it's short or long or medium or left or right. If it works, it works, and you can't fake good food the same way you can't fake great QB play.

And if you don't care about reading all of this, just enjoy this: