People oftentimes refer to cooking as an art, but lately it seems like more science is getting involved. One such style of cooking is known as sous vide. This involves vacuum sealed bags, tightly controlled temperatures, and upwards of four days to cook the food. Fusion dining would seem to be another place where science seems to take over from art - the word conjures up images of nuclear reactors - but it is actually one of the most artistic ways to cook these days.
The definition of fusion is "the act or process of fusing; the state of being fused." When it comes to food, it refers to bringing together two seemingly disparate elements and creating something new. Typically it is traditional menu items such as chicken, steak and seafood partnered up with authentic ethnic spices and styles of preparation.
Latin fusion is probably the most popular style of fusion cooking these days. Thanks to the hybrid of Tex-Mex food and the influx of typical menu items of nachos, quesadillas and tacos into many restaurants, even national chain restaurants and independently owned casual fine dining establishments are already accustomed to some of the flavors and presentations.
Fusion cooking takes it to the next level, in many cases, by deconstructing the typical appearances. That is, the chefs will use the same flavoring agents, spices and sauces that have been used by the families for generations when preparing meals around the house, but the presentation will be more typical of traditional dining fare.
It is that mark of authenticity that makes these restaurants so popular. Many times the chef and owner of a Latin fusion restaurant will be a second or third generation member of his or her family. It sounds like a great marketing ploy but when they say they are using the same recipes their grandmothers did, they are not lying. These are recipes that have been handed down through the years and they use them as the basis for creating their new menu items.
Finally, a fusion menu helps people bridge the gap of discovering new foods. Many people will stay away from a restaurant that has food they are unfamiliar with. Without having a familiar point of entry on the menu, something they have knowledge of, they will not feel comfortable dining there and will search out a different restaurant. A fusion menu gives them the comfort of food they know with the excitement of different methods of preparation and new spices.
Fusion is more than just a buzz word, and it is far less intimidating than it might seem. Experiencing dinner at a casual fine dining fusion restaurant will help give you an introduction into a whole new artistic style of cooking.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the world of food and beverage for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com