Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fusion Cuisine as Historical Artifact

From Drink: A Social History of America, by Andrew Barr:

Far be it from an Englishman to criticize American food, but the present-day fashion for fusion food appears perfectly to demonstrate both the virtues and the failings of the American character when it comes to food: enthusiasm for novelty and a willingness for experimentation, combined with a tendency to take a good idea to such extremes that it loses its original value. Similar ideas are influencing cooks elsewhere in the world, including Australia (and even Britain), but they are not taken to quite such excess.

One could argue, indeed, that the excesses of modern fusion cuisine simply perpetuate an American tradition of mixing all kinds of different foods on the same plate. In the nineteenth century the practice of serving different kinds of food at the same time encouraged many Americans to "mix things together with the strangest incongruity imaginable" (according to the account of Fanny Trollope, mother of the novelist Anthony, who lived for some years in Cincinnati at the end of the 1820s).

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