People frequently praise particular ethnic restaurants as "authentic" and criticize others as "Americanized." I used to do this. No more. I have made an uncomfortable discovery: I often prefer the Americanized, inauthentic versions of cuisines to the authentic ones.
I've always suspected that I'd feel this way about Asian cuisines. Although I've probably never had truly authentic Japanese, Chinese, or Thai food, I would bet any amount of money that I would prefer Chicken Teriyaki, Beef with Broccoli, and Phad Thai over what I would actually be served in those countries. I always thought that was just because of my aversion to seafood and to animal parts not commonly eaten in the U.S.
But lately, I've been going to the authentic Mexican restaurants here (which use, at least in many dishes, ingredients I'm fine with), and I don't love them as much as I'm supposed to. They're good, but to be honest, I prefer mission-style burritos (think Chipotle) and taco salads to their enchiladas and tacos. The authentic Mexican dishes I've had are a little too meat-heavy for my taste, they tend not to have enough vegetables, and they favor corn tortillas instead of my preferred flour tortillas. But I am made to feel bad about my desire for burritos, which the Hispanic people in my office dismiss as "white people food." I don't see why I should feel bad.
Don't get me wrong-- I still think there is a benefit to authenticity. Just as I would enjoy visiting Tokyo once or twice to see how people live there, I would enjoy going to an authentic Japanese restaurant once or twice to see how people in Japan eat. But just as I would not want to live on a daily basis the way that people in Tokyo live, I don't want to eat on a weekly basis the way people in Japan eat. Bring on the burritos.