All food, through the decades, has travelled, whether it is Italian to New York, French to London or Thai cuisine to Amsterdam.

Ironically one of the food cultures that has travelled furthest to reach our shores now plays more of a part of the fabric of our eating habits than some of our own indigenous dishes, namely the food of the Indian sub continent-Curry.

As one of those odd celebrations plucked from the ether, National Curry Week beckoned, and I was asked to comment.

Initially I was hazy as to its origin. What was curry week trying to celebrate, what cultural cause did it serve? Clearly it was meant to be taken up by Indian restaurants across the region to swell their nightly bookings, but what message was I meant to embrace?

As my first port of call I telephoned Kalum, a long standing colleague and the owner of a couple of first-rate eateries in the region, to examine the ‘celebrations’ further and ascertain what the myriad of Indian restaurants wished to promote beyond increased turnover.

What was the essence of Indian philosophy, and a dish named curry in particular, that both of us could share. In order not to look a complete fool, I had undertaken a modicum of research on the general subject of why England had taken the likes of Chicken Tikka so much to its heart, and why we eat more curry dishes than roast beef, per capita head. I need not have worried, his grasp was even shakier than mine on this post war phenomenon.

Although many of the linguistic timelines are somewhat blurred, the most consistent apparition of the term curry was from the Tamil word, Kari, and describes dishes, predominantly stews, that were dressed with a soupy-like sauce. These sauces originally contained spices, not herbs, and used cumin, mustard, coriander seeds, fenugreek and turmeric as the principal tastes, with nothing more spicy than crushed black pepper. It was not until the Portuguese, returning from the Americas, did Chilli and garlic enter the curry mix.

Additionally, the catch-all curry word now stretches around the globe from Mongolia to Mexico, South Africa to The Netherlands, each with a regional twist to the contents. Equally, a curry dish from Pakistan could be unrecognisable to one in Bangladesh, as would cuisine from Nepal compared to Bhutan.

Due to our early colonial days, inferences surrounding the solitary word Indian can colour a multitude of responses. For many centuries it seemed that every new colonisation, or land-grab depending on your point of view, threw up another race of Indians, Red in Northern America, Native in Latin America. Caribbean and Indonesian Islands became the West and East Indies respectively. What is certain is that the Hindu faith populated banks of the mighty river Indus and formed the origination of the word. But even the often enlightened British rule overseeing Burma, Nepal and Sri Lanka continued to use the broad brush-stroke of Indian. Probably the 1947 partition was the first glimpse that offered us a distinction between race and religion, geography and culture.

So with my tongue firmly in my cheek and with the national habit of finishing off a good night at the pub before setting off for a take-away ‘Ruby’, I asked Kalum what style of curry he would eat in my shoes. His answer was disarmingly simple – “I wouldn’t eat this stuff” (I’ve taken out all the expletives). Aside from the fact that due to his own faith he would not have spent the evening involved in a Lager frenzy and that eating alone without family and at that time of night was unthinkable, he patiently outlined his position. Nothing wrong with the bulk of curry house cuisine from Bradford to Bodmin, but little bore any relation to either his family cooking in Bengal or modern European cuisine from other cultures now available in all but the dreariest of British eateries.

With Indian restaurants now turning their backs on Raj inspired décor replete with the neon glow of a cut-out Taj-Mahal and flocked wall paper – last seen at the court of Queen Victoria – English bench seating bolted firmly to the internal walls, and the flagons of Tiger beer by the imperial pint, much is being done to pay some lip-service to Britain’s modern dining needs – with one notable exception.

A limited observation of curry houses popularised in the late 70’s and 80’s, still offer clones of their former glory today, new restaurant settlers would operate two principals, open a restaurant less-than a street away from their competition and ask their printer to copy the nearest menu supplanting their own logo on the front cover.

In these emporiums, often resembling a cross between a pub and a mosque, customers rarely even read the menu, they often knew in advance what they were to order.

I cannot think of any other cuisine from Sushi to Gastropub where the menu would not be consulted avidly on each visit.

So my plea to support National Curry Week would be to offer local produce with fresh spices rather than industrial Mrs Patak sauces, and at least one topical dish of the day be it North Sea fish, Venison or local lamb, all cooked with an eye to its origination, that way a top-down supply can be influenced and celebrated by a bottom-up demand.