Fusion Cuisine - A marvelous migration into multicultural menus or An abominable alimentary assault

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I do not seek an answer, but a discussion on the subject of "Fusion Cooking". Is Fusion cooking fused or just confused? 

Wikipedia defines Fusion cuisine  as: cuisine  that combines elements of different culinary traditions. Cuisines  of this type are not categorized according to any one particular cuisine  style and have played a part in innovations of many contemporary restaurant menus.

I have experienced the good, bad and the ugly of fusion cooking. I have enjoyed French inspired Vietnamese Bánh Patê Sô (yum!!), refused to finish a ramen noodle burger (just a bad idea) and choked on a haggis taco (the ugly).

As a traveler, I see this trend increasing with the world becoming a smaller place. My hope is that we could have the best of both worlds, preserving the authentic native cuisines, while finding new and delicious combinations. Keep in mind that this is hardly a new trend. It's been happening along various borders for centuries. Remember, the first Thanksgiving was an example of culinary fusion!
 

pete

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This has been discussed here many times before. As you said, fusion cuisine is nothing new. As long as humans have been migrating from 1 area to another there as been fusion cuisine as they adapt their familar dishes to new, local foodstuffs or marry their cuisines with those of the people already living there. Or bring new foodstuffs back to their native lands to be incorporated into their home foods.

Today, with the world at our fingertips, chefs have the ability to "play" with just about any cuisine they wish. The results, as you stated, can be mixed, from the sublime to the downright nasty. While some chefs sometimes just get lucky, its my belief that you really cant consistently pull off any type of fusion cuisine until you have an intimate knowledge of the cuisines you want to fuse. Reading a couple of cookbooks on each cuisine isnt going to do it. You have to have a deeper understanding than that to make it work on a consistent basis
 
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A "haggis taco"?!?  WOW.  That's out there. More power to you for having the stones to try that one. 
 
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Here in Vancouver, Chinese New Year is a pretty big thing. By sheer coincidence, Robbie Burns day usually falls the same time. A couple of enterprising bars have a "Gung Haggis fat choy" buffet for that day...
 
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Haggis taco sounds like a good thing potentially, but you'd have to actually think it out, not just bang the one into the other.


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I'm still in therapy over the Haggis Taco!!

So is there anyone out there with great or horrendous fusion cuisine experiences? 
 
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Good topic.

IMO the best examples of fusion are those that come about because the cuisines in question cohabitated the same geographical areas at some point in time.

Such as your example of French and Vietnamese.

mimi
 
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Yup. Fishball pizza.

See, the Singaporeans (well, many Asians, actually) have this love affair with fishballs, 9 out of 10 noodle dishes have them. Fishball pizza is what happens when you let a S'porean go creative in an American style pizza joint....

Hey! Howabout Haggis pizza?
 
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Wow. I am suddenly wondering why formed/steamed fish balls haven't caught on as a pizza topping in Japan. They're WAY into the things, and they don't have much truck with what we in the US tend to think are ordinary pizza toppings. And yet, I've never seen fish-cakes.

Maybe I have a new business ideal!


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     In my area, I find restaurants don't seem to grasp the fundamentals of good fusion, instead simply expanding their inventory to include all manner of exotic ingredients with little relation to each other or providing the menu with any focus or theme.  Any given menu item may be composed of multiple ingredients previously never combined, thrown together and presented as being a creative take on something else.  Multiple menu items with ingredients from multiple cultures and cuisines all on the same page.

      I will grant that there are some individual items that taste good and present well but in looking over the menu from a professional standpoint, all this process really does is bloat the inventory and lower the profit margin and does nothing to present anything coherent to the customer.

     I've noticed too that many of the same restaurants claim to be local, farm to table and seasonal, which is a bit of a farce given all the imported ingredients they need to put together such a diverse menu. All of which calls in to question the freshness of the inventory, as not all items will sell well consistently. 

     When I go out to spend my money, I still prefer restaurants with a single focus, whether that is haute French cuisine or a burger joint.  

     Sadly I've noticed lately help wanted ads, even for corporate/institutional jobs, expect the prospective chef to be familiar with everything from Mediterranean to Asian to South American cuisines, which tells me they don't get it either, but are just trying to follow the latest trends.  
 

kuan

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Here in Vancouver, Chinese New Year is a pretty big thing. By sheer coincidence, Robbie Burns day usually falls the same time. A couple of enterprising bars have a "Gung Haggis fat choy" buffet for that day...
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kuan

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I just made myself a really good combination the other day.  Lamb curry and Injera bread.
 
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There are several good fusion places here in Chicago--mostly quick, take out places. Most of them seem to be Korean + some other cuisine.

Bop n Grill--Korean/burger place. Their kimchi burger and umami burgers are fabulous.

http://www.bngrill.com/

Big and Little's fish and  Poke tacos are delicious.

http://www.bigandlittleschicago.com/menus

Urban Belly and Belly Shack--also Korean + fusion. Both amazing.

http://www.urbanbellychicago.com/

http://www.bellyshack.com/grub

Fat Rice-- A mash-up of foods from Spain, Macau, Portugal, all kinds of Asian influences.

Polygon Cafe -Thai + Sushi and Tanoshi Sushi--creative sushi that takes ideas from all kinds of influences.

La Tacorea closed, but it was a very tasty Mexican-Korean fusion take out place.

https://www.yelp.com/menu/la-tacorea-asian-mexican-grill-chicago-2

Those are the ones where I've eaten. There are plenty more I have not.
 
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Japanese and Ashkenazi Jewish is a thing waiting to happen. Just sayin'.


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This is inspiring me to try a pot-au-phở this coming winter. Wait. That's... reverse fusion!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
 
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