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That Sweet Enemy

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When I think "fusion" I usually conjure up images of cooks (in the Pacific Northwest, for instance) who deliberately try to, for example, take an expressly Asian dish or set of flavors, prepare it using French techniques, using local ingredients.

Both anecdotal and imaginative.

:biggrin::wink:

But then thinking of chefs and what they do *is* a romantic thing.

To those that are not chefs.

And as long as the cuisine is something exciting and/or conceptual rather than "plain old".

(That's okay, too. I certainly made lots of money off that sort of thinking. :smile: )


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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I'd say "deliberately" yes, but not self-consciously. Not an intellectual construct, but using what they know to make something that tastes good.

I am fortunate to in a neighborhood where, despite other shortcomings, the local stores stock tamarind paste as a matter of course. The Kuntz recipe marries tamarind paste, tomato, honey, ginger, coriander and cumin into a glaze that he spills over flank steak. Possibly because they're in the next aisle, the beans and rice (my neighborhood is heavily Salvadoran and they maintain that red are the only proper beans) seem an obvious match.

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I'd say "deliberately" yes, but not self-consciously.Not an intellectual construct, but using what they know to make something that tastes good.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Yes.

Did I say "yes"?

Yeah, I did. :smile:


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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When I logged in again to post I was sent all the way back to page 7, so excuse me if this has been said already. HOWEVER:

Strictly speaking, wasn't the term "fusion" coined to recognize how French and Asian (specific European and generalized Asian terms deliberately chosen) ingredients and methods were being integrated in professional kitchens?

Of course, there are hybrid cuisines in just about every period of history and every geographical area in which travel, invasion, conquest, war, inter-marriage, trade, im & emigration occur. Thus, what Karen & Charles have said about Italian food. Same goes for French.

However, one of the essential aspects of fusion food rests on culinary hegemony.

I'm saying it without judgment (this time), but French cuisine dominates what foudeez how you say zink about when they think about standards of excellence and sophistication in professional kitchens where it has already been said, French language is central to cooking terms and the make-up of the kitchen staff (sous-chef, etc.).

Introducing Asian to an established French repertoire concomitantly promotes Asian food as Excellent and Sophisticated while de-stablizing the position of French cooking as Exclusive Top Dog.

Moreover, it questions the value placed on Authenticity, proclaiming a prestigious place for Mongrels.

This type of cooking depends on the rise of the chef to a higher social status. If accomplished successfully, fusion cooking is an inventive category that celebrates the creativity, or artistry of the chef. He or she is not judged simply by an ability to execute a recognized dish properly. There's a mind attached to the hand that holds the knife.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

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hegemony.

They really need to invent a new word for this one. I grimace every time I see it.

.................................

We sing for our supper as chefs. One way or another. Pretense of mind there or not.

:laugh:

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Strictly speaking, wasn't the term "fusion" coined to recognize how French and Asian (specific European and generalized Asian terms deliberately chosen) ingredients and methods were being integrated in professional kitchens?

It *would* be interesting to know when exactly the word "fusion" cuisine was coined, Pontormo.

I did not find "fusion" nor "cuisine" in Hendrickson's "Enclyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" so went to the usual dictionary (American Heritage) which has no separate entry for the phrase but rather it is the last commentary under "fusion".

A style of cooking that combines ingredients and techniques from very different cultures or countries.

There was no note of when it was supposed to have started.

But that's just a dictionary definition, anyway. Heh.

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When I think "fusion" I usually conjure up images of cooks (in the Pacific Northwest, for instance) who deliberately try to, for example, take an expressly Asian dish or set of flavors, prepare it using French techniques, using local ingredients.

My initial comments on this page are redundant, I see. This quote is lifted from a larger discussion. Not an expert, either, but Menon's perspective reflects my own understanding, though "fusion cooking" now has broader connotations even if it's wrapped up with Asian ingredients and technque as well as California. I do believe deliberate methods of appropriation were involved, though now, that aspect of fusion cooking may no longer be relevant given the factor of assimilation. Cf. this week's cooking blog by c. sapidus.

At any rate, I don't think French cuisine is as relevant to the concept any more, if it had been initially.

ETA: Ming represents this trend best in reruns on PBS. The Californian aspect of fusion shines through in that Northern Italian AND French cuisines merge with Asian in the dishes he prepares.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

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This "fusion" thing has opened the proverbial can of worms.

It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

This is not the case in Australia/NZ/ or London, where it is rightly or wrongly identified as a mix of South East Asian and European cuisines. Widely used, not really. Understood, yep.

My understanding is that its not a coincidental mix of flavours, but a purposeful contrast. When done right it can be amazing, but it can also be contrived and banal. Success rides with failure lurking.

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When in doubt, invoke the Higher Authorities.

According to the Expert on All Things, Culinary or Otherwise, the OED considers the concept of fusion cuisine an American Phenomenon (my Capitals).

The relevant part of the entry on 'fusion' states:

orig. U.S. = fusion cuisine.

]1983 Time (Nexis) 12 Sept., Some practitioners of nuova cucina make no secret of the fact that they are aiming for a fusion of French and Italian culinary techniques]. 1988 Nation's Restaurant News (Nexis) 9 May, The restaurant's French-Asian fusion is apparent in a dessert trio of flavored creme brulees ginger, chocolate mint, and an [sic] mandarin orange served in sake cups. 1998 Grocer 22 Aug. 44/2 What would typify fusion is to have a pasta dish, but to make it with Asian herbs. So you would use basil, but it would be Thai basil. 2001 Evening Standard 21 Sept. (ES Mag.) 49/1 Suddenly, anyone who could lay their hands on a fistful of lemon grass, a couple of kangaroo fillets, a bucket of coconut broth and a bunch of tamarillos was ready to open a fusion restaurant.

fusion cuisine orig. U.S., a style of cookery which blends ingredients and methods of preparation from different countries, regions, or ethnic groups; food cooked in this style.

1986 United Press Internat. Newswire (Nexis) 15 Apr., The dishes Allison creates enjoy an enticing blend of ethnicity, one more subtle and intriguing than any of the influences considered separately... ‘We've always been eating what I call *fusion cuisine, and it's going on more rapidly today than ever before.’ 1993 Calgary Herald 24 Mar. D1 A wonderful fusion cuisine supper featuring tiger prawns in green curry sauce with mascarpone polenta. 2000 P. JOHNSON & C. O'BRIEN World Food: New Orleans 162 The global flavors of fusion cuisine and the essentialist simplicity of new American cuisine have led to exciting high-end interpretations of classic dishes that aren't bound by the rules of tradition.

(Seeing "Fusion Cuisine" as a Named Movement or Fashion it seems.)

Edited to correct a typo)


Edited by The Old Foodie (log)

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It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

As it orginated there, I do not understand your doubt. I have seen no doubt in America.

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When in doubt, invoke the Higher Authorities.

with mascarpone polenta.

Edited to correct a typo)

Heh. Marscapone polenta. How many fuses would a chef fuse fuse, if a chef of fusion could chef fuse fusions?

:biggrin:

Fast, three times.

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This "fusion" thing has opened the proverbial can of worms.

It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

This is not the case in Australia/NZ/ or London, where it is rightly or wrongly identified as a mix of South East Asian and European cuisines.[...]

Japanese cuisine, ingredients, and techniques are major elements of fusion, are they not? Japan is in Northeast Asia, not Southeast.

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It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

As it orginated there, I do not understand your doubt. I have seen no doubt in America.

Really? I must be reading upside down. LOL

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It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

As it orginated there, I do not understand your doubt. I have seen no doubt in America.

Really? I must be reading upside down. LOL

You must. Does that make your head hurt?

You really are a loveable sort...

:cool:

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This "fusion" thing has opened the proverbial can of worms.

It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

This is not the case in Australia/NZ/ or London, where it is rightly or wrongly identified as a mix of South East Asian and European cuisines.[...]

Japanese cuisine, ingredients, and techniques are major elements of fusion, are they not? Japan is in Northeast Asia, not Southeast.

I think you answered your own question here.

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This "fusion" thing has opened the proverbial can of worms.

It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

This is not the case in Australia/NZ/ or London, where it is rightly or wrongly identified as a mix of South East Asian and European cuisines.[...]

Japanese cuisine, ingredients, and techniques are major elements of fusion, are they not? Japan is in Northeast Asia, not Southeast.

I think you answered your own question here.

hehe, I'll just step back now...

All yours Pan. I know you know how to handle it.


Edited by annecros (log)

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I do believe deliberate methods of appropriation were involved, though now, that aspect of fusion cooking may no longer be relevant given the factor of assimilation.

Do you believe that those deliberate methods of appropriation were for the most part a conceptual process that was planned, or moreso a case of taking out the (new, foreign) paints that happened to now be before one and simply playing with them, thereby having a deliberate method of appropriation, yes, but one done in real time using the tools one uses as chef on an everyday basis. . .food. . .with concept following the paint rather than paint following the concept. . .

I think, Pontormo, that the paint led the way rather than a formal conceptualization leading the paint, in most cases.*

It would be curious to backtrack on American fusion cuisine to see whom the leading lights were, and what they claimed their process to be.

(*To phrase it another way, an organic process rather than a mentally pre-conceived or deliberately manufactured one.)

(I'm actually beginning to feel a bit mental, myself, within this discussion. . . :laugh: )

(But never deliberately manufactured)


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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This "fusion" thing has opened the proverbial can of worms.

It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

This is not the case in Australia/NZ/ or London, where it is rightly or wrongly identified as a mix of South East Asian and European cuisines.[...]

Japanese cuisine, ingredients, and techniques are major elements of fusion, are they not? Japan is in Northeast Asia, not Southeast.

I think you answered your own question here.

I'm using a question as a polite way of pointing out the erroneousness of identifying fusion as solely a mix of Southeast Asian and European cuisines. Anyway, perhaps your definition works outside of North America and Continental Europe, but it certainly doesn't apply to some of the places known for fusion cuisine in this part of the world. Union Pacific in New York (which closed a couple of years ago), for example, was heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine.

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I do believe deliberate methods of appropriation were involved, though now, that aspect of fusion cooking may no longer be relevant given the factor of assimilation.

Do you believe that those deliberate methods of appropriation were for the most part a conceptual process that was planned...

Yes. That's what I meant by both the words "deliberate" and "appropriation".

All these quibbles are veering from the focus. The only reasons I started musing about fusion today was to make a point about the status of French cuisine, thinking back to the subject of Tim's article.

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Yes.  That's what I meant by both the words "deliberate" and "appropriation".

All these quibbles are veering from the focus.  The only reasons I started musing about fusion today was to make a point about the status of French cuisine, thinking back to the subject of Tim's article.

I don't mean to quibble, I mean to explore, hopefully.

I have no final proofs or points to make, really. Though I will espouse positions of my own, my ideas constantly change due to new information learned.

There have been many veers from the focus on the thread, and to me, that is something attendant upon the strength of Tim's piece and the not simple nor enclosed questions raised by it. Kudos to Tim, in my book, and the numbers of responses on this thread should bear witness to whatever he happened to strike upon in our minds and hearts.

Perhaps another thread would be the place for discussing many of these things. I'd rather give him the numbers, though. :biggrin:

As good fences make good neighbors, good numbers make good nods to acquaintance for many things for what they represent. :wink:

I could try, to find a better link from what I was talking about (and what you were talking about previously in your post) to the French, or the British, but more than an "answer" to things I prefer an ease of conversation rather than a struggle, so maybe another time, another place. :wink:

My knuckles have been suitably rapped. :biggrin:

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This "fusion" thing has opened the proverbial can of worms.

It seems in America there is some doubt as to what fusion cuisine is.

This is not the case in Australia/NZ/ or London, where it is rightly or wrongly identified as a mix of South East Asian and European cuisines.[...]

Japanese cuisine, ingredients, and techniques are major elements of fusion, are they not? Japan is in Northeast Asia, not Southeast.

I think you answered your own question here.

I'm using a question as a polite way of pointing out the erroneousness of identifying fusion as solely a mix of Southeast Asian and European cuisines. Anyway, perhaps your definition works outside of North America and Continental Europe, but it certainly doesn't apply to some of the places known for fusion cuisine in this part of the world. Union Pacific in New York (which closed a couple of years ago), for example, was heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine.

I agree, it may be erroneous. As a matter of interest I just read an article in the NYTimes describing the food at Public as Global Fusion. Public is the NY restaurant of NZ'r Peter Gordon, who is credited with bringing fusion cuisine to London.

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We have Mexican, Chinese, Greek, Jewish and Italian restaurants in almost every region of the US. Granted they vary from authentic to very loose interpretations. The point is, as I believe Pan was making, that most areas in the US are, and have been, very accepting of different cuisines.<br>

In most places you can grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch and later on take your date out to a high quality Italian restaurant. But tell me, how many times a week do you go to a cheap and quick French bistrot for lunch? Yes, French may still be king of the high end restaurant, but it is the American take on the world's cuisine that dominates most of our day-to-day meals.<br>

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Tim's the total pro. And one of the smartest, funniest food writers in the known universe.

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In most places you can grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch and later on take your date out to a high quality Italian restaurant.  But tell me, how many times a week do you go to a cheap and quick French bistrot for lunch?

Just saw this...we've had a "bistro' explosion here in Washington DC, and it's now possible to eat at a different place ever day of the week. :smile: Unfortunately the prices are not as authentic as the food.

This was one of the most enjoyable conversations on eG in the past couple of years.


Edited by hjshorter (log)

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