I didn't know that something as simple as a generic descriptor such as "fusion cuisine" could start a debate. After all, it is just like any other thing or idea that the human race has decided to label. It is just a label. I don't see it as negative or misleading in any way. It is a label applied to foods that are prepared and cooked with a mix of culinary styles and ingredients. How is fusion cuisine as a label sparking such a controversy?
I think that no matter what label is chosen for this kind of combination cooking, someone, somewhere would take offense to it. Certain chefs have commented that the word fusion lessens what they do. The thought involved in successfully combining two or more types of culinary styles is negated by the term fusion. Some chefs say that they do mash-ups instead. The two are really the same thing in my opinion. I think fusion is fitting because it is commonly understood as combining things to create something new. A mash-up is taking two things and mashing them together to once again, get something new. Both terms really started out in the music industry (other than the scientific use of the word fusion) to describe the combination of normally disparate genres of music to create a fresh sound. I don't recall musicians complaining that their music is lessened by what genre it was labeled under. So why is it a problem in the culinary world?
It isn't a matter of passion. Though some say otherwise, but I don't see a chef being more passionate about their cooking than a musician with their music. So what then? I honestly have no idea. Fusion cuisine is a handy if not catchy way of describing one's cooking. Not to mention that the way I see it, it is a very accurate descriptor for what one would logically conclude when presented with a combination of flavors and cooking techniques that create a flavor profile that tastes like everything belongs together.
Is it perhaps just the day and age we live in where anything and everything can be offensive to someone? We aren't labeling the chefs themselves, only their genre of food. If they don't like the descriptor chosen, they can always do something else if need be. I guess if one of them starts something completely new that has never been seen before, then sure, let them name it whatever they want. However, if it falls into the category of mixed culinary or "fusion cuisine" that we are currently calling it, don't take offense when the word fusion is used to describe your cooking. People know that what you do is not the easiest thing in the world and recognizes that you aren't simply stealing two things, mixing them together and calling them yours. It is understood that you are creating something new that is built on the foundation created by those that came before you.
Tim Hiller is a freelance writer that believes "fusion cuisine" is not a negative descriptor, but an aptly named one. www.osorioslatinfusion.com