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Is it fusion?

Today's experiment tomorrow's classic dish. Fusion at its best allows ingredients from all over the globe to be marinated, cooked and served together in harmony on the same plate.

by: Ilze Dreyer | 19 Mar 2007

The Americans firmly believe that fusion cuisine started in the culturally, ethnically and culinary rich hot pot of New York. Lead by the famous Australian-American chef Wolfgang Puck.

In the 1970's he laid the groundwork for one of the most commonly fused pairings: European and Asian cuisine. He was traditionally trained in Europe, but equally well versed in Asian cooking. Over the ensuing decades "east meets west" eateries began emerging throughout the country. It emerged notably in urban areas where the cultural melting pot was more amenable to culinary integration.

A simple example of fusion cuisine would be the bagel. In the 1890's only Jews from Eastern Europe ate bagels. The bagel became an icon of the north-eastern United States in 1927 after the Lender's bakery in New Haven, Connecticut opened its family-run business. Kraft bought Lender's in 1984 as a companion for its Philadelphia brand cream cheese and the rest is culinary history. Today bagels are larger, softer, sweeter, and more flavourful than their prototype, with mixed ethnic ingredients such as chilli peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. And seventy five percent of U.S. households eat them. In culinary terms, the bagel has blended

However is fusion cuisine really a cuisine?
Cuisines are the result of evolution, an intermingling of forces over centuries or even millennia. A national or regional cuisine develops and changes as part of a living culture. Influenced by historical forces, geography, geology, climate and technology as well as by the raw materials that are available.

No cuisine today can be classified, understood or ultimately appreciated by looking at borders on a modern map. Italian, Spanish and French cuisines would not be what they are today if explorers had not liked the strange foodstuffs they brought back from their voyages of discovery.

Most of all fusion cuisine is a sense of culinary adventure, a departure from classic recipes, a breakdown of cultural barriers, and the discovery of exciting new taste combinations.


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