6 Spicy Discoveries From Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval’s “Hot Ones” Session With Asianati | Cincinnati News | Cincinnati

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Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval can’t handle Krishna’s “as spicy as it gets” level during a 2022 interview with Asianati.

As Asia/Pacific Heritage Month draws to a close, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval is spicing things up.

Asianati – an offshoot of the Asian American Cultural Association of Cincinnati – recently asked its social media manager, Sam Burke, to gently toast Pureval during a The hottest-meal at the Indian restaurant Krishna, eating increasingly spicy cuisine until one of them begs for mercy (Blackish star Tracee Ellis Ross, ageless Marvel movie stalwart Paul Rudd, parody musician Weird Al Yankovic and more did the same with hot wings during The hottest‘255 episodes so far).

“I am half-Tibetan, half-Punjabi, so this [his spice tolerance] should be amazing, but sadly, I’m going to manage expectations and say I’m, like, an average spice eater,” Pureval told Burke before digging in, adding that he usually orders food at level three on Krishna’s six levels of heat.

On the Pureval menu:

  • chicken pakora, spice level 0
  • vegetarian samosa, spice level 0
  • dal makhani, spice level 1
  • Chicken choley, spice level 1
  • saag paneer, spice level 2
  • lamb curry, spice level 3
  • chicken tikka masala, spice level 5 (“I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m on the surface of the sun, about to explode,” he says.)
  • chicken vindaloo, level “as spicy as possible” (“They said not to let you eat more than a spoonful,” Burke told Pureval. “It’s like a spice hammer,” he says in coughing into his briefcase. “My Indian dad is going to be so disappointed in me.”)

Pureval couldn’t handle her mouth on fire, but between sips of water and mango lassi, Pureval – which is on Gold House’s 2022 list of 100 Asians and Pacific Islanders having a big impact on the world and is the first Asian-American mayor of Cincinnati – squeaked out some choice information. A few nuggets:

1. Pureval loves Krishna.

Pureval points out that Cincinnati has a plethora of great Asian restaurants, but he notes that he and his family have become Krishna regulars.

“It’s a very, very small restaurant that uses heavy cream in almost all of its dishes, so I wouldn’t say it’s healthy, but it’s a great comfort food,” Pureval says. “And it’s also relatively affordable. When I was a law student, it’s physically located right across from the law school, and so I would go there, I’d have a relatively affordable meal. The portions are huge, so you satiate yourselves.”

But the restaurant also feels personal at Pureval.

“And it reminded me of home,” he says. “It reminds me of my mom and dad’s cooking when I was growing up.”

2. Pureval needs daily affirmation and validation.

Burke points to the fact that in many Asian families, food is a “love language” (the way someone expresses love or receives love). Pureval shares that he loves Thanksgiving, but also says he needs daily affirmation from his wife, Dr. Whitney Whitis, to look his best.

“By the way, my love language is words of affirmation, so I demand that my wife tell me she loves me every day, which pisses her off to the umpteenth degree,” Pureval reveals. “And her love language is acts of service, so she really wants me to do laundry every day.”

Pureval then reflects on his two parents sharing responsibility for the kitchen, preparing dishes from all over Asia, including for Thanksgiving (his mother would buy a turkey, but the rest of the meal was stir fries and curries, he says) .

“What struck me thinking back, when I was a kid I thought it was pretty normal… I thought it was a daily experience for everyone to eat these kinds of foods at home. home,” says Pureval. . “It wasn’t until I was older that I realized it was unique to my own experience.”

“It was a bit like growing up in a fusion restaurant,” he adds, saying he now shares these culinary traditions with his own children.

3. Pureval develops empathy by being seen as a “stranger”.

Burke notes that Pureval grew up in Beavercreek, a Dayton suburb that she says has an Asian population of just over 6% today (Pureval: “In the ’80s and ’90s, it didn’t look like 6 %.”). He says that as a person of Punjabi and Tibetan descent, he felt out of place as a child.

“I didn’t fit in with the Indian community because I don’t necessarily look entirely Indian. There is no Tibetan community to speak of – my observation is that I have never met a woman Tibetan girl that I was not related to. And in the larger white community, I was kind of seen as an ‘other,'” Pureval explains. “And so it was a really tough time for me growing up, not having that kind of permanent community and stable identity.”

But, like others who have identities rooted in marginalized communities, Pureval says he had to find ways to connect in some way.

“Now looking back, I think what that forced me to do as a kid and what I still use now as an adult is kind of constantly put people at ease who I am with, with my ethnicity and with my background. And that has forced me to be much more empathetic than maybe a different experience would have caused,” Pureval says.

4. Pureval’s heritage shines through in the names of its children.

Pureval says his full name – Aftab Karma Singh Pureval – has significant significance within his family. Aftab means “sun” in Persian and Karma means “destiny” in Tibetan. Singh, he says, means “lion” and comes from his father’s religion, Sikhism, in which all boys have Singh’s middle name. Pureval is a reference to the farming village of his paternal ancestors in Punjab, India, he says. Pureval says one of her son Bodhi’s middle names is Singh, while Ramis – who is about a month and a half old – uses Karma.

“Names are extremely important as cultural identifiers, so I try to celebrate all of my cultures in my children,” Pureval says.

Pureval says that his chosen anglicized pronunciation of his name – af-tab pyur-vol instead of ahf-tahb by-e-flight – earned him some disappointment from South Asians. But a name is “intensely personal,” he says, noting that people of Chinese descent often have both a Chinese name and an American name.

“No one can really understand what your personal experiences are as a person of color or as a person with a unique ethnic background growing up in a part of the country where you grow up,” Pureval says. “I’m incredibly proud to be half Tibetan and half Punjabi. It’s not a matter of being ashamed or hiding anything. It’s really just a matter of trying to navigate this corner of the community where I live and where I’m supposed to drive.”

5. Pureval welcomes questions about one’s ethnicity – but ask them thoughtfully and sincerely.

Pureval says his name made (and still makes) him a target for insulting questions about his past and his place in the United States. Like many non-white people, Pureval had to navigate “Where are you from?” while being steeped in the tropes of the “model minority” and the “permanent foreigner”. He says he welcomes people who ask about his heritage and thinks many aren’t trying to be offensive with their phrasing. But it has a limit, that’s understandable.

“As I got older, I became less and less patient and accommodating with people, and so I would legitimately answer the question. It’s so childish, but someone would ask me ‘Where are you from?’ and I would say, ‘I grew up just outside of Dayton.’ And they were like, ‘No, no, where are you really from?’ and I was like, ‘Well, I grew up in Beavercreek,'” he says. “And then they would start getting mad at me for not answering their question. So they [say], ‘Well what is your nationality?’ And that’s an even dumber of a question; I was born in Beavercreek, so I’m American. And then they would get frustrated and say, “You know what I’m asking you. So not only is the question offensive, but a lot of people will get impatient if I don’t do the work for them.”

But Pureval acknowledges that her young sons may also face challenges, even as they grow up in a world that theoretically includes more people of multiracial backgrounds (Burke notes a Pew Research Center study that found one in five Americans will be considered multiracial by 2050). He and Whitis collaborated on names for their children that connect both ethnicities of their parents (Whitis is white). It’s something he says his parents didn’t think about for him and his brother, as they were busy supporting the family and trying to “assimilate” as first-generation residents. .

“My wife and I are in a different situation because we were born in this country, we are from this country, and so I hope to raise my children in a way that nurtures their souls and nurtures their identity,” says Pureval .

6. Pureval knows his kicks.

Mouth on fire thanks to chicken tikka masala in level five, Pureval laughs when Burke asks him about a photo he posted on Instagram, showing him holding a flag and waving at children during the Cincinnati opening parade Reds in April. He then reveals that he’s a fan of Michael Jordan’s line of sneakers, specifically the Jordan 11 and Jordan 1. Pureval says a Cincinnatian designed the Rebellionaire, the name of the Jordan 1 he’s wearing in the photo. .

“I am, I admit, a sneakerhead,” says Pureval. “This [the Rebellionaire] was designed by a sneaker designer from Cincinnati, and there were only eight stores nationwide that this shoe made it to, and Corporate here in Cincinnati was one of those eight stores,” says Pureval. “And Corporate didn’t just buy the shoes and sell them to the community; they used this as an opportunity to conduct service. So I was really proud to have a pair of these, to lift Corporate, to lift our local talent designing shoes, and of course I think these are amazing Jordans.

Pureval also says he’s proud to own a custom Cincinnati Bengals bomber jacket designed by Means Cameron of BlaCk OWNed Outerwear downtown. He saw the Bengals’ Super Bowl LVI “as an opportunity to brag about our city” and said he tasked Cameron with packing something he could wear for the big game in Los Angeles.

“I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to have a custom Means Cameron piece and take every opportunity to elevate our Black-owned businesses here in Cincinnati. It was such a treat,” Pureval said.

Watch Asianati’s full interview with Pureval below.

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