Government by the curry, and for the curry

The United Kingdom's Indian food crisis continues. Even conservatives agree: Something must be done!

Published April 10, 2009 5:22PM (EDT)

The great saga of the United Kingdom's curry cook saga continues.

For those who haven't been following along.

In "The Sad Case of the Wiggly Chapati" we learned that immigration restrictions were preventing British curry shops from hiring adequately trained curry chefs.

March 2008:

Tightened immigration requirements in the U.K., set to kick in November, will require that immigrants from the subcontinent, hitherto brought in on sponsored visas to work as cooks in the thousands of Indian restaurants that are the U.K.'s most delicious hangover from empire, must now speak fluent English and possess a "high-level" cooking certificate.

But then, in "Have Curry Spices, Will Travel," we were heartened by news that the government would not idly stand by and allow a nation of Indian-food lovers to lose the most enduring benefit the British Empire gained from its days of imperialist colonization!

September 2008:

But now comes news that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Home Office has been paying attention to the throngs of curry-house owners who have been taking their grievances to the streets. The MAC, reports ExpressIndia, "has revised its list of occupations and skills that are in short supply in UK, which enables employers to recruit skilled workers from India and other countries outside the European Union."

But an article in the Guardian this week seems to indicate that the crisis is still ongoing. At a "curry summit" held between representatives of Indian (and Chinese) restaurants and government officials, chefs called for a "national curry college."

Conservative MP Stephen Crabb who takes part in the Tiffin Cup -- an annual competition among MPs to find the best Indian restaurant in the country -- said curry houses in his constituency of Preseli Pembrokeshire had told him of their struggles to recruit UK-based chefs.

He said: "Given that the curry is almost seen as a UK national dish, we should be developing our own indigenous curry workforce."

That's right -- a conservative endorsing an industrial culinary policy. Truly, the sun has finally set on the British empire.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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