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More about fusion


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#1 Pan

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:02 PM

Has fusion cuisine been the wave of the past since time immemorial? Is it the wave of the future? What kind of fusions do you think will be most common or/and most influential in the future, and at what price points?

In "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe," Fat Guy wrote the following:

[...]Will the twenty-first century be the American century for cuisine? It’s too early to tell, and it would be foolish to count the French out prematurely.[...]


Indeed, no-one should count out the French, but isn't it possible that the 21st century will instead end up being the century of giant Asian countries like China and India? And given the possibility and perhaps likelihood of East and South Asian countries gaining in visibility, influence, and power in the coming decades, is it not perhaps a likelihood that we will see even further penetration of things previously thought Asian into Western cuisine at all price points? Will we be seeing more soju in high-end restaurants? McTeriyaki Burgers? Truffle-scented masala dosas? Foie gras soup dumplings?

#2 jamiemaw

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 11:04 PM

Has fusion cuisine been the wave of the past since time immemorial? Is it the wave of the future? What kind of fusions do you think will be most common or/and most influential in the future, and at what price points?

Indeed, no-one should count out the French, but isn't it possible that the 21st century will instead end up being the century of giant Asian countries like China and India? And given the possibility and perhaps likelihood of East and South Asian countries gaining in visibility, influence, and power in the coming decades, is it not perhaps a likelihood that we will see even further penetration of things previously thought Asian into Western cuisine at all price points? Will we be seeing more soju in high-end restaurants? McTeriyaki Burgers? Truffle-scented masala dosas? Foie gras soup dumplings?

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Pan,

We live in one of the newest cities on the Pacific Rim, and although we're still known as British Columbia, our population is quickly approaching 40 per cent Asian. That will accelerate as recently announced immigration intakes are increased.

It's an exciting culinary laboratory to be sure, closer to the mother DNA of China, Japan, and India than the founding gastro-cultures of Europe that begat us. You won't find it called fusion here though, because those influences have taken on more 'merged' characteristics: they now lie deep (and comfortably) within our regional cuisne while also--in home and restaurants--still serving what begat them.

Perhaps that also describes the difference between our two counties and how we characterize the assimilation of immigrants (and also of their cuisines): whereas Americans call that assimilation a 'melting pot', here we call it a 'vertical mosaic'.

For the newer, emergent cities of the Pacific Rim such as Vancouver, Seattle, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland (each of which also enjoys an indigenous wine culture), these flavours are second and even first nature--they are everywhere and very much interwoven in their culinary fabric. By no coincidence, they are also amongst the most exciting (and best value) places to eat in the world. And as surely as the economies of China (and, for differnet--as it's now called--reasons and more slowly) India, will usurp those of Europe and North America, so too will their other cultural exports such as cuisine.

Ooops--so sari--that's already happened. Chicken tikka is already the dominant, even iconic dish of Great Britain; sushi has replaced egg salad sandwiches in gas stations on the west coast; and

McTeriyaki Burgers? Truffle-scented masala dosas? Foie gras soup dumplings?


all of these things have already happened.

Needless to say, China and India (and other Asian cultures) were culinary super-powers when the French were still full of Gaul. It's only the conceit of our relatively recent 'discovery' of them (largely imported, and largely via our own media) that has validated that discovery for us.

The future? Merge Left.

Edited by jamiemaw, 26 September 2005 - 11:42 PM.

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#3 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 05:47 AM

Jamie and Michael, to state the obvious that I think both of you are implying, it seems to me that one of the fusions you're charting is the fusion of haute and not-so-haute cuisines. This discussion has tended to keep those two ends quite separate (Victor's thread on high-end restaurants, Holly's on "dumbing down"), but I find this question more compelling, not only for emergent local cuisines like that in Vancouver (and, he adds proudly, Providence) but also for the corporate giants who fill our freezer aisles and pass feed bags into cars idling in the drive-through.
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#4 jamiemaw

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 08:41 AM

Jamie and Michael, to state the obvious that I think both of you are implying, it seems to me that one of the fusions you're charting is the fusion of haute and not-so-haute cuisines. This discussion has tended to keep those two ends quite separate (Victor's thread on high-end restaurants, Holly's on "dumbing down"), but I find this question more compelling, not only for emergent  local cuisines like that in Vancouver (and, he adds proudly, Providence) but also for the corporate giants who fill our freezer aisles and pass feed bags into cars idling in the drive-through.

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Excellent point, Chris. Just look at the explosion of izakaya dining on the west coast--easily supplanting sushi restuaurants in terms of new, casual restaurant openings. It is, after all, the bistro food of Japan exported here, and is very accessible and cheap, and appeals to a younger demo in rooms that pulsate with energy. Here is just one example, in the cleverly named Hapa Izakaya.

As for Asian fast food, well it's endemic too. As the article above also states, ramen and pho are also pervasive; terrific, fast and restorative, both take much less time to eat than to prepare.

But look no further than a local local supermarket to amplify the observation. Over the past decade sushi has become a generic foodstuff, widely available as takeout in grocery store deli cases, but in Vancouver (and I'm sure in many other cities)—subbing in for those nasty triangles of egg salad on white—even at gas stations.

Many other Asian foods have also become ubiquitous to the point of cliché. Salted edamame show up as pub snacks; won tons (aka pot stickers) are staples on starter lists in casual, white guy restaurants and deli cases or frozen for snacking at home. Dim sum vies with eggs Benny as Vancouver’s civic brunch icon. Chains such as Earls, Cactus Club and Joey’s Global do a credible job with hijacked Asian noodle dishes, quite often punchier, in fact, than Asian restaurants at the same price point.

So many Asian ingredients and preparations (such as black bean, soy and oyster sauces, ponzu, wasabi, bulgogi, kuljon and lo mein) have crossed the divide that it is now the norm to see Asian references on most western-based Vancouver menus. One dish, Vietnamese-styled garlic and chilli-spiced baby squid, is now so widely available as to be unremarkable.

All speak to a simple fact: there is a wide difference between 'dumbing down' and convenient accessibility. I believe that the consumer--in an effort to deal with diminished at-home preparation or dining out time--is becoming more savvy, not less.

Cheers,

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw, 27 September 2005 - 08:50 AM.

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#5 Pan

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 01:10 PM

There's also the phenomenon of high-end Asian street food, in the form for example of Bhel Puris at Devi, whatever they're serving at Spice Market (never been), etc.

#6 Bux

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:54 PM

I don't think I've ever heard anyone refer to flavors that actually fused on a plate (or more accurately on your palate) as fusion. That's what they call it when they're still experimenting. Spaghetti with tomato sauce there's a real fusion almost as good as steak frîtes. It's interesting that places such as Vancouver are developing an authentic Vancouver food. Here in NY we have fusion, and people still craving authentic Thai food.
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#7 Pan

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 09:39 PM

[...]It's interesting that places such as Vancouver are developing an authentic Vancouver food. Here in NY we have fusion, and people still craving authentic Thai food.

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In other words, there is no New York style along similar lines to the Vancouver or California styles, which as Jamie pointed out aren't considered "fusion" anymore, but normal. That said, I'm sure Vancouverites, like Californians, enjoy "authentic" Thai food very much.

#8 Bux

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 08:16 AM

[...]It's interesting that places such as Vancouver are developing an authentic Vancouver food. Here in NY we have fusion, and people still craving authentic Thai food.

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In other words, there is no New York style along similar lines to the Vancouver or California styles, which as Jamie pointed out aren't considered "fusion" anymore, but normal. That said, I'm sure Vancouverites, like Californians, enjoy "authentic" Thai food very much.

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Perhaps I should have used a different word than "craving." I'm sure there are Vancouverites of all persuasions who crave an authentic Thai meal just as much as any New Yorker, but do they insist on its authenticity all the time? Do they spurn it for not being authentic? Do they make a fetish of finding the most reputably authentic replica of home cooked Thai food in the manner of breeders of show dogs or bluebloods searching for the perfect mate for their heirs, or can they sit back and enjoy the amalgam that's developing. I certainly enjoy finding vestiges of authentic food the way I enjoy finding vestiges of any old civilization. All the better to find a living vestige. I am also a sharp critic of fusion food having had so many dishes that offend my palate. Nevertheless, I am excited by the new and by the flux in our culture.

I am learning to understand why I should not be offended by western vegetables in dishes in Chinatown, nor by bok choy in French restaurants uptown. If a chef is judicious in his tastes why shouldn't he be adapting his foods to include those which are now native to him just as a generation of Italian immigrants adapted their diets to produce what could have been seen as the native food of perhaps something akin to a new province of Italy or a subculture of New Jersey and the Bronx and not differently than Italians taking the tomato into their homes centuries ago.
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#9 vserna

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 08:32 AM

It's interesting how this whole thread revolves around fusion with Asian elements only. In Spain we have perhaps the earliest pioneer of fusion cuisine in Europe, Abraham García of Viridiana (he's been doing it for more than 20 years, much earlier than the actual appearance of the word 'fusion' to define the movement). Perhaps because of his influence, Spanish fusion tends to be widely encompassing - its main elements being Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Moroccan, Turkish, Mexican and Peruvian, with a Scandinavian dollop here and there. It doesn't always work, but when it clicks it gives a glimpse of the future (as is the case with fusion everywhere, of course). It seems to me that, outside Spain, fusion cooking isn't making a great splash in continental Europe - but I may be wrong, of course. Last week in Paris, I enjoyed Chamarré's French/Mauritian fusion a lot!

Edited by vserna, 28 September 2005 - 08:33 AM.

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#10 jamiemaw

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 10:22 AM

[...]It's interesting that places such as Vancouver are developing an authentic Vancouver food. Here in NY we have fusion, and people still craving authentic Thai food.

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In other words, there is no New York style along similar lines to the Vancouver or California styles, which as Jamie pointed out aren't considered "fusion" anymore, but normal. That said, I'm sure Vancouverites, like Californians, enjoy "authentic" Thai food very much.

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Perhaps I should have used a different word than "craving." I'm sure there are Vancouverites of all persuasions who crave an authentic Thai meal just as much as any New Yorker, but do they insist on its authenticity all the time? Do they spurn it for not being authentic? Do they make a fetish of finding the most reputably authentic replica of home cooked Thai food in the manner of breeders of show dogs or bluebloods searching for the perfect mate for their heirs, or can they sit back and enjoy the amalgam that's developing. I certainly enjoy finding vestiges of authentic food the way I enjoy finding vestiges of any old civilization. All the better to find a living vestige. I am also a sharp critic of fusion food having had so many dishes that offend my palate. Nevertheless, I am excited by the new and by the flux in our culture.

I am learning to understand why I should not be offended by western vegetables in dishes in Chinatown, nor by bok choy in French restaurants uptown.

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First, perhaps 'fused' is to individual dishes (and failed home ec experiments) as merged is to menus, restaurants and then whole regional cuisines, or at least to clearly identifiable elements of them.

Those elements are largely ingredient driven, although technique (and often, large woks, tandooris and curry pots) are involved too. Chefs arriving in new cultures often struggle to find facsimile ingredient for substitution in their 'authentic' repertoire. Voila: something new evolves. That might be why the newer cities of the Pacific Rim have such rapidly evolving cuisines: Authentic skill + new ingredients = excitement. That's underscored because those failed home ec experiments won't last long on a menu.

Bux  Spaghetti with tomato sauce there's a real fusion almost as good as steak frîtes. It's interesting that places such as Vancouver are developing an authentic Vancouver food. Here in NY we have fusion, and people still craving authentic Thai food.


As Bux points out, spaghetti with tomato sauce was fused, but has now merged into the mainstream. Deconstruct the ingredients, and you'll see tomatoes that originated in the Americas and Durum wheat grown in Canada and exported to Italy to make the pasta component. The basil is probably local. As for the steak frites, if it's eaten with Dijon mustard, the mustard seed was also likely grown in Saskatchewan.

The nature ('authentic') vs. nurture ('evolutionary') goes on. Of course, fusion, in its most base sense, has transpired since early Neanderthals fused (literally) fire to mastadon loin.

Back on point, here in Vancouver it's also possible to eat, say 'authentic' Chinese (and very well and reasonably), or to do the CSI thing and investigate the vestigal culinary DNA interwoven into what has emerged as a distinct regional cuisine. While some might find that warp and weave fascinating, I just think it tastes good. The same can said to be true of the many other culinary laboratories of the Pacific Rim, such as Melbourne, Singapore, Seattle, and Auckland, but especially Sydney. (Although Sydney is half a world away, and despite using widely disparate ingredients, Vancouver and Sydney share a great deal of culinary similarity.)

We have to bear in mind a cultural difference between Commonwealth countries and America. If America is branded a 'melting pot', Commonwealth countries tended to think more in terms of a 'vertical mosaic', where elements of mother cultures continue to be celebrated, but also where, certainly by the second generation, there is confluence. The same is true for the way we eat.

To prove the methodology of these culinary laboratories, and their 'trickle down' effect, I look no further than the hybridized menus in any of the highly successful concept chains that began in Western Canada: Earls, The Keg, Cactus Club Cafe, Milestone's et al. Each offers themes and variations on imported dishes.

Let's look at Earls, which really started it all. Outstanding development chef Michael Noble (ex-Four Seasons, The Metropolitan Hotel, Culinary Olympian and captain of Canada's Bocuse d'Or team) helms a flavour-forward menu, which, in addition to a very good occidental menu, also offers these dishes:

Sushi Platter: self explanatory

Thai Chicken Salad: crisp romaine and asian slaw, grape tomatoes and peanuts in a spicy Thai lime dressing, fresh cilantro and mint topped with 1/2 breast of grilled curried coconut chicken

Sunfish with Panang Curry Sauce: firm fish low in fat and sweet and mild in flavour, with spicy panang curry sauce, brown rice and wilted greens

Jeera Chicken Curry: tender chicken in an authentic Indian curry, served with jasmine rice and fresh baked naan bread

Hunan Kung Pao: wok fried noodles and seared vegetables tossed with spicy ginger soy sauce, topped with peanuts **Add pan fried chicken or sautéed shrimp

Abundant foodstuffs for all the citizens! At about US $10 per entree! Are these individual dishes made better and more 'authentically' elsewhere? Yes, at individual restaurants. But at Earls, families and casual diners can sop up these flavours effortlessly, alongside a stunning one-price wine list, 100% organic greens and incredibly well-trained servers.

That, I think, illustrates how what might have been novel a decade or more ago, and was born in fused flavours and ingredients, is now irretrievably merged.

I celebrate it daily.

Edited by jamiemaw, 28 September 2005 - 11:41 AM.

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#11 JasonTrue

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 10:25 AM

I was born in Seattle, and grew up among 3rd generation Nikkei families, Chinese first and second generation immigrant families, and Vietnamese refugees. For me, the impact of Asia on our local culture and cuisine has been pervasive for a long time.

But even beyond recent collisions between cuisines that emerged because of immigration, the process of culinary fusion is a long-existing historical phenomenon; squash and sweet potatoes in Japan and Korea, potatoes and tomatoes in Europe, and chillies in Indian, Thai, and Korean cuisine only became relevant to those cuisines subsequent to colonizations in the Americas. The movement of the apple from Kazakhstan to the rest of the world created the opportunity for well-boozed-up westward travel in the United States, and spread to China, Japan, Europe and beyond.

Fusion as a project in itself, and not merely a natural evolution of the availability of ingredients or as a side effect of migration patterns, seems to be a product of urban restaurant dynamics since the 1970s or so. But in the late 90s, it seemed to become such a stylized concept that it sometimes came to mean long lists of incongruously unrelated, interesting-sounding ingredients combined into one dish.

For me, a lot of fusion efforts fall flat because of this, and I've ranted about it extensively. I am fully supportive of the idea of taking good ingredients or techniques from disparate cultures, of compatible function, and finding a way to make them work together. But sometimes I feel like the point of restaurant fusions is to shock and impress rather than to taste good.

What I hope for is a return to simplicity. I'm not interested in returning restaurant cooking to a focus on "classic" dishes, but on the more natural kinds of fusion that result when, for example, a Chinese chef is confronted with western broccoli or a French chef finds himself in Japan and finds mint incredibly expensive but shiso quite reasonably priced. From such collisions, simple but wonderful flavors can be created. When a Japanese pastry chef uses matcha or yuzu juice, it's often because it's a readily available ingredient and has a culinary function similar to cocoa powder or lemon juice. It's not necessarily because some ego-driven New York celebrity chef wants to kick things up a notch.

I went to a French restaurant in Japan and was served French food built upon available ingredients... roasted gobo (burdock) provided a beautiful earthy flavor to build a soup upon, sweet persimmons and black sesame and salt with some yogurt or savory custard provided a nice palate cleanser, and matsutake hunted by the owner of a neighboring Japanese restaurant made a fantastic component of a simple risotto. Yuzu mascarpone sorbet contrasted the readily available with the rare, without being over-the-top.

I've been equally impressed by a Japanese-owned restaurant in Seattle, which had some over-the-top fusion trainwrecks but also created some elegant, simple fusions like a hijiki polenta with a miso bechamel sauce.

This kind of fusion appeals to me. Not a tower of novel-sounding ingredients made primarily for dramatic effect, but approaches built upon thoughtful understanding of the flavors of ingredients, and creative but humble use of those ingredients within an otherwise strong foundation of culinary techniques.
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#12 SuzySushi

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 11:31 AM

It's interesting how this whole thread revolves around fusion with Asian elements only. In Spain we have perhaps the earliest pioneer of fusion cuisine in Europe, Abraham García of Viridiana (he's been doing it for more than 20 years, much earlier than the actual appearance of the word 'fusion' to define the movement).

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I would say that "fusion" in Spain (and Sicily) began a lot further back than that, with Moorish influences! :wink:
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#13 jamiemaw

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 12:09 PM

I was born in Seattle, and grew up among 3rd generation Nikkei families, Chinese first and second generation immigrant families, and Vietnamese refugees. For me, the impact of Asia on our local culture and cuisine has been pervasive for a long time. . .

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Jason, thanks for your intriguing and illuminating post. This is eGullet at its best--views arriving from around the world to describe regional variations on a universal theme.

Could it be that you and I are products of Asian fusion? You part-Asian with an occidental surname, me with an Asian (sounding) surname who is still an occident waiting to happen?

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#14 akwa

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 09:38 PM

what is fusion
that two people who at one point in time came from the same place
independently developed culture
then met again later and found out they like the same stuff?
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#15 Pan

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 09:50 PM

Now that we've established that fusion has existed forever, would anyone like to focus more on this question?

What kind of fusions do you think will be most common or/and most influential in the future, and at what price points?


I realize it's hard to be a prophet, but no-one's holding you to your predictions. What cuisines do you think will be most influential in influencing dining in the next 100 years or so, through the lending of techniques and ingredients so as to produce merged cuisines of the type we've been talking about?

Or are we barking up the wrong tree and will it really be new technologies as yet perhaps not imagined that will be most influential?

#16 akwa

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 06:55 AM

Now that we've established that fusion has existed forever, would anyone like to focus more on this question?

What kind of fusions do you think will be most common or/and most influential in the future, and at what price points?


I realize it's hard to be a prophet, but no-one's holding you to your predictions. What cuisines do you think will be most influential in influencing dining in the next 100 years or so, through the lending of techniques and ingredients so as to produce merged cuisines of the type we've been talking about?

Or are we barking up the wrong tree and will it really be new technologies as yet perhaps not imagined that will be most influential?

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new technologies
food technologies have always been the way of the mass market anyway

but in the way of information transfer

in that way it will be cultural fusion as traditionally found but with new means to allow previously unheard voices to demonstrate relevance

just as globalization did to cinema for example

#17 JasonTrue

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 12:15 AM

...Could it be that you and I are products of Asian fusion? You part-Asian with an occidental surname, me with an Asian (sounding) surname who is still an occident waiting to happen?

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I wouldn't go so far as to call myself Asian, though some of my friends might; I am, however, hugely influenced by my early exposure to Asian immigrant populations, as I think those experiences substantially influenced my university course of study, my career path, and my personal interests.

Asian fusions are probably likely to continue to dominate the culinary scene for the near future, because travel to Asia and Asian ingredients are both more accessible than ever before; intra-European fusion mostly ran its course, and travel to Africa is still rather complicated and expensive. Some potential for fusions between South American/Caribbean cuisine and European techniques is imaginable, but again, the effects of colonization meant the fusion has already pretty much happened, and it's just a question of how much of a presence South American cuisines can develop outside of that region. Middle eastern cuisine has already had a substantial influence on European cuisine.

Long term, most fusions will have to involve either Asia or Africa. These are where the frontiers are.

While I have misgivings about the excesses of fusion, I think this is mostly due to the fact that most fresh-out-of-culinary school cooks have limited culinary experiences. Outside of restaurants, most cooks still have limited exposure to Asian cuisine. Almost none of it is from exposure to Asian cuisine within Asia. As appreciation for Asian cuisine becomes more sophisticated, I hope fusion will also evolve, becoming less about shocking and surprising customers and more about fundamental understandings of the functions of ingredients, and deeper understandings of techniques of the cuisines they are borrowing from.

The old sitcom joke about the Chinese eating Chinese food all the time just goes to show how limited the range of culinary experiences Americans have within the realm of Asian cuisine. In China, Hong Kong or Taiwan I might find restaurants mostly focused on a particular region and so they might have a long menu of various things, as one might find in the U.S., but it's a very different approach. You don't usually see a long list of (insert name of meat here) (insert name of sauce or preparation here). Options are important, but usually each place has a signature touch. But beyond that, many restaurants really specialize in something; you aren't entering some sort of ambiguously Chinese restaurant. You're at a duck place, or a dumpling place, or a noodle place, or a seafood place. In the U.S. and Canada, such specialization does exist, but it's rare enough that most people have a very specific imagination of what they should be able to get at any Chinese restaurant.

I once went with a friend to a favorite noodle place in Seattle and she was disappointed she couldn't get an order of fried rice... at a noodle place.

This kind of specialization is even more pronounced in Japan. I went to one place which only served one dish, depending on the weather: either mori-soba (plain buckwheat noodles with a dipping sauce) and pickles, or soba in hot soup. Granted, it was a restaurant on a buckwheat farm, but it's a restaurant concept that is incredibly unlikely in the U.S. I've gone to a place that serves only rice porridge, and one that only serves onigiri (generally, stuffed rice balls, a classic traveler's lunch) and simple accompaniments. I've been to several restaurants that only serve I've gone to a place that only serves anmitsu.

If go out to okonomiyaki in Japan I would be somewhat disappointed to find sushi on the menu, because it would mean they don't have confidence in their signature item, and probably don't do either dish very well. Yet in the U.S., I find restaurants that do this kind of thing all the time. We have "high end" Japanese restaurants with menus as long-winded and unspecialized as chain family restaurants in Japan.

Because of the relatively poor palate education the average American has, especially in the context of Asian food, "fusion" chefs have a lot of room to appeal to people with essentially mediocre food. I've watched restaurant reviewers base their entire rating of a "Japanese" restaurant on their impressions of "standards", which for them meant the spicy tuna roll, spider roll, and California roll, all of which are incredibly unlikely to be found in a Japanese sushi place. By those standards, it won't take much to impress the same reviewer with "innovative" combinations of monstrous towers of ingredients.

On the other hand, I have misgivings about the use of the word "authentic" to describe cuisine, especially when used as an opposite to "fusion". It's also incredibly ambiguous, and reflects more on the experiences of the person using the word than on the "authenticity" of the food. Even authenticity isn't much a guide for quality; it would be incredibly naive to say that 7-11 prepacked onigiri and side dishes aren't authentic Japanese food. They clearly are designed to meet emerging Japanese needs, even if the delivery method isn't traditional and even if the taste is relatively unremarkable. Similarly, grilled chese with processed cheese slices on white bread with canned tomato soup is authentically American, but this implies nothing about quality or tradition.

Fusion as a process is always a product of the experiences of the person who creates the fusion. The future of fusion will really depend on how much exposure chefs and home cooks have to their source cuisines. If every trendy fusion restaurant is built on the chef's experiences of a lifetime of ambiguously Asian restaurants and uninformed trips to the nearest Asian supermarket, coupled with a 2 year culinary degree, there isn't much to look forward to.

I do hope that people will start to appreciate not just the novelty of ingredients, but the fundamentals of what their source cuisines value. Japanese, for example, place a high value not on flavor intensity or spiciness, but on "sappari"-ness, which can be partially explained, but doesn't translate very well. If fusions of Japanese ingredients and Western foods are done with an understanding this fundamental aspect of Japanese culinary ideals, there's something for me to look forward to. But that will take more non-Japanese chefs experiencing this in context, rather than in the U.S.

Actually, the experience of Japanese convenience foods weighed against a well-executed Japanese ryokan meal, and the experience of the difference between instant noodles vs. handmade, recently milled soba noodles made by someone who has been doing it all his life, are all valuable pieces of culinary education that will help inform a chef who wants to develop a fusion of Japanese cuisine and something else. Not every experience needs to be "haute cuisine"; sometimes the perfect simple thing teaches a lot more than an elaborate multicourse meal at an expensive restaurant.

But I do think that Asian fusion, and fusion in general, will only grow as much as the sophistication of the culinary education of Westerners does.

Edited by JasonTrue, 30 September 2005 - 12:48 AM.

Jason Truesdell
Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please