There is a question on every foodie's mind these days, and it's a good one. What is fusion? Well, as you can probably guess, it deals with the idea of mixing two or more things together to create something that is more than the sum of its individual parts. When we talk about, say, Latin fusion cuisine, it becomes clear how this relates to the culinary traditions. What is fusion, and what can it do in terms of transforming culinary traditions of various large cultural groups, especially in the heated environment of foodie America?
Most people are very aware that Latino culture is not a monolith and that there are huge, glaring differences between different traditions, not just in terms of food preparation but also in religious traditions, language, etc. The same type of Spanish is not spoken in both Puerto Rico and Spain. This is true both in terms of the dialects and slang being used, but also in terms of the very way words are pronounced and sounded out! Our histories are varied and unique, although not everyone really gets a glimpse of just how unique. From a distance, we might all seem similar, but up close, you'll see incredibly complex stories of different cultural communities, countries, and traditions begin to unfold. People spend their whole lives studying the histories and anthropology of these places so we know for a fact there's no way to experience everything all of them have to offer in one lifetime. A varied fusion cuisine is a way of bridging that gap - giving you a little bit of everything.
Fusion food is another step forward in the Latino food industry, and is part of a very active and forward thinking way of creating our own cultural future. With so much of our history being erased or washed away through the violence of Western colonialism, it's no wonder so many of our narratives in media discuss displacement and diaspora. Puerto Rico's indigenous population, for example, wasn't almost extinguished - it was entirely wiped out. Shifting the focus to the future and actively creating new Latino culture is an incredible and powerful cultural statement.
Fusion is also a way of bridging the gaps between "different" and "same" when it comes to the various shades of Latino culture. It's a way of bringing things together from all different kinds of Latino culture, and allowing the differences to enhance the complexity of the meal itself. Old classics are suddenly reinvigorated, and entirely new meal creations have emerged as part of this method in action. This is, of course, painting with a very broad brush. There is no telling all of the ways that regional and local cooking styles and food preparation differ from country to country and island to island. When you take a moment to consider all of the different ways that these meals can be transformed and customized, it really isn't a particular surprise to think about how that customization is affected by location.
Kae Colon is a writer that specializes in Latin fusion restaurants and greatly enjoys her family's secret recipes that go back generations. http://www.osorioslationfusion.com/