Curry is one of the national dishes of England. Chicken tikka masala regularly tops the list of Brits' favourite meals, and the fiery, fragrant cuisine of the former colony is essentially considered British food, as it has been enjoyed nationwide there for the better part of two centuries.
But curries can also be really spicy—sometimes dangerously so—which leads many Westerners to order more palatable variations like butter chicken, and to request milder seasoning, in order to avoid fainting or hallucinating.
White man and Indian food enthusiast Stuart Lynn is one such customer who is now at the center of a controversy because he requested that his venison curry be served "very mild," in his takeout order from Valentine Restaurant in Southall, west London.
When he received his order, Lynn claims that he was appalled to see the words "***VERY MILD, WHITE PPL***" written on the bill, next to the venison curry order.
Speaking to The Mirror, Lynn, a Heathrow Airport supervisor, claimed that he can handle spicy curries and said that he was offended by the racial and stereotypical implications of the receipt. "It implies we can't deal with strong curries. I do like a hot curry sometimes. I just fancied a mild one for a change. I thought it was very rude of them."
But the restaurant at the heart of the supposed racial slight claims that this is all just a huge misunderstanding. Ruby Kandasamy, the owner of Valentine Restaurant, swears that there is no ill will. Instead, she points to linguistic confusion about the word "ppl", which she argues is synonymous with milk.
"I have investigated and can confirm it a misunderstanding. Under 'white ppl,' we don't mean white people, but a white sauce made from milk, single cream, coconut milk and spices we add to our dishes when a curry is requested mild," she told The Mirror.
"However, we have decided to change the way we inform the kitchen and will mention 'add white ppl' or 'with white sauce' to avoid any confusion with our customers. We want to apologize to the customer for any inconvenience and misunderstanding, we hope the curry was nice and he or she will visit us again."
The Mirror also alleges that Kandasamy never clarified her claim about the word "ppl" meaning "milk." Stuart Lynn isn't buying it either, pointing to the fact that the concept "white milk" is redundant. "What other colour is milk? I spoke to an Indian friend of mine and 'ppl' doesn't mean milk. They're just trying to get out of it."