Among white people of my approximate age, Indian food bears a striking similarity to Scientology: Their adherents are not shy about recruiting, they are relentless in the face of polite disinterest, and they meet all arguments against the faith with kindly head-shaking at the skeptic’s lack of a deeper understanding. I don’t like Indian food. This is viewed not as a preference, but as a shortage of a righteous number of Hindu Thetans or something. I mean, I also don’t like television, and people leave me alone on that — but the idea that I could be content with where my mind is vis-a-vis Indian food is something enthusiasts of the genre cannot grasp.
I don’t dislike Indian food, exactly. I like bhuna goat. I like naan and cheese naan, and I had some spicy shrimp I liked once. If I recall correctly samosas are acceptable, especially the outside crust, but I don’t remember if samosas are good in a vacuum or just good by the low bar set by Indian food. But meat-swimming-in-sauce is my least favorite form of food, and desserts should not make one think of spit-up. (By the way, forgive me if I haven’t used exact right phrase-forms for the food. I didn’t bother to look them up because I really don’t give a shit.) But let me say I would rather order pizza than curry, and the reaction drawn is as if I announced that I was trying to pray away my chest pain.
The latest attempt to distinguish between “Don’t Like” and “Not Crazy About” and “Won’t Eat” got me thinking about my whole hierarchy of delivery options, and I started ranking preferences in an attempt to illustrate what I’m talking about. As I think about it, this format owes at least as much to fantasy baseball as it does to tandoori chicken. So we can consider this a draft order, really.
I had to make some assumptions when making these rankings. I disregarded nutritional value. (Given the choice I’d order a lot more pizza.) I also tried to average the preferences; sushi doesn’t top Mexican food all the time, but maybe seven times out of ten. I also assumed, except where noted, a reasonable representation of the food. I’d obviously take really good Chinese over lousy pizza, or decent Indian over Trader Joe’s horrific “sushi.” Finally, I tried to stick to that which is reasonably widely available. I love Cuban food, particularly maduros and vaca frita, but good luck with that outside Miami. I also assumed more than two people, though I disregarded the size and composition of the group ordering the food.
- Pizza. The top pick’s greatest strength is also its sole weakness: The myriad variables require either exhaustive negotiations or Stalinesque dictatorship if the time from idea to order is to require less than an hour of the deepest tedium.
- Chinese. Strengths: Everyone can have what they want, fortune cookies. Weaknesses: Suffers badly in transit.
- Subs. Unsexy pick with very limited upside, but always gets it done. Ranking drops relative to group size, though.
- Italian. It will be a sloppy mess on arrival. Like Chinese, only worse. Unlike Chinese, though, it reheats fine.
- Sushi. Sushi’s ranking here is equivalent to Michael Vick’s or Jose Reyes’ ranking as fantasy players: The chance of injury is too high to rank any of ’em higher. Would go much higher if invariably delivered with the speed of, say, Jimmy John’s.
- Hot sandwiches. This includes burgers, Italian beef, meatball subs, chicken sandwiches, the whole range of American hot sandwiches; plus gyros, shawarma, and falafel. And I don’t care what anyone else thinks; French fries suffer lethal injury when they travel more than 200 yards.
- Mexican. Travel window is very small. Bump this option up some in an altered state, though; a pile of tacos always seems like a better idea at 2am.
- Just Going To The Store.
- Thai. Thai food was the Indian food of the 80’s. The subset of the population that would be called Yuppies if it were still 1985 and they weren’t so invested in not being called Yuppies tends to love the stuff, though it isn’t as hip as saag paneer. Despite this august pedigree, Thai food nearly always puts me in mind of Kibbles ‘N’ Bits. Still, I’d rather order Thai than …
- Indian. Extra naan, please. And I’ll be reminding you people I was a good sport about this for a long, long time.