Each season has certain elements that are particular when describing the accompanying cuisine. Summer is all about cooking on the grill and enjoying fresh watermelon while during the winter, people look forward to hearty stews and soups. The fall is no different, with its focus on harvested vegetables and earthy spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin. It might feel like places such as New England and the northern Midwest would have a monopoly on such flavors, but fall comes everywhere and it can be tasted in all types of cuisine.
The harvest is the most important part of the year for any society. In fact, it was the ability to stay in one place and raise crops that gave rice to the first societies several thousand years ago. Even in places where different produce can be grown year round, the biggest bounty by far happens in the fall. Traditions that date back to the beginning of every culture include giving thanks and celebrating the bountiful harvest, and as such, that led to a greater emphasis placed on cooking in the fall than any other time of the year.
Coming from such a warm heritage it is surprising to many people to think of Latin fusion dining as having an approachable and significant fall flavor profile. However, just because many of the nationalities and heritages that make up today's Latin fusion chefs come from areas near the equator does not mean year round hot temperatures. Much of the terrain is mountainous with high elevations, keeping temperatures cool, and even those that were closer to sea level are typically semi-arid, meaning days may still be warm but the night could get cold indeed.
These weather patterns led families to similar smoky flavors and rich spices that people associate with when the leaves turn. A common ingredient in much Latin fusion cooking is roasted peppers. The fragrance and flavor managed to infuse everything in the dish, resulting in a warm full bodied experience. Smoky meats, spicy sauces and hearty soups are just as common in the kitchen of someone who can trace their heritage back through Latin America as they are to someone who has never been farther south than the Mason-Dixon line.
It is easy to fall into routines when dining out at casual fine dining restaurants and choosing the typical Appleton, Wisconsin restaurants that seem to be the most associated with autumn. This fall, as the leaves start to turn and the temperatures begin to fall, expand your horizons and see what fall tastes like when prepared in the kitchen of a Latin fusion restaurant. It is quite an experience to see that as different as cultures may seem, there are still many small things they share in common.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the Food and Beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com