More Than Just "Fusion"

Gourmet Intersections: Asian-Latin Food Crossings

A Deep History of Cultural Intersection

WASHINGTON D.C. July 24th, 2013

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Latino Center hosted a lively discussion about the changing shape of shared food traditions, touching on the restaurant industry, the space of the home, and the migration and evolution of sushi from Japan across the Americas.

Panelists included:

Cristeta Comerford, White House Executive Chef
Trevor Corson, Iron Chef America judge
Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table

FYP-DC proudly came out to support Chef Cristeta Comerford from Columbia, MD; the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve as White House Executive Chef. 

“Fusion food” can be a touchy subject.

For some, it involves the replacement of time-honored culinary traditions with marketing ideas that dull both taste and culture. Authentic herbs and spices are swapped for gravy sauce. Home-cooked staples are substituted with a Dorito shell. It’s enough to convince one that certain ingredients – and cultures – just don’t mix.

Yet, for many others, “fusion food” means something more.  It means history, cultural innovation and American life.   The cross-migration of communities often seen in isolation, like Asian Americans and Latinos, have found common ground through food trucks and hole-in-the-wall diners. In New York City – the ethnic hodgepodge metropolis – restaurants serving Chinese-Cuban and Chinese-Peruvian food embody deep-rooted experiences and thus, a kind of fusion that suggests more than being a passing fad. In Los Angeles, Korean tacos were almost an inevitable invention after Korean and Mexican traditions spent decades marinating together.