From a reader:
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
I’d tend to believe your maitre d’. Indian restaurants and food service
were really created for the British Raj (which is why Indians you may know
constantly bitch thay “Indian” restaurants in general really don’t serve
“Indian” food.) There’re a number of reasons, not least of which have to
do with religious prohibitions on who can cook your food what you can buy.
I still have a devil of a time getting food out for my quite orthodox (and
very nice) Hindu grandfather. Restaurants really came in to serve the
foreigners; in fact in Tamil there really isn’t even a good word for them
(“Hotel” is what you might use).