The prince of Portland food- and the latest "it" chef on the NYC scene- offers a thoughtful essay on the myth of "Authentic" regional cuisine:
People often praise the food we serve at Pok Pok and my other restaurants as “authentic.” I’m flattered, but that word and its cousin in compliment, “traditional,” are banished from my restaurants. The words imply an absolute cuisine, that there is a one true Thai food out there, somewhere.
Both terms are nonsensical designations — as if traditions are the same everywhere, as if they don’t change, as if culinary ones don’t evolve with particular speed. After all, some of the ingredients, techniques and dishes we most closely associate with the food of Thailand are in fact relatively new to the cuisine.