We might be experiencing one of the greatest golden ages of dining out these days. Not only are there so many new and diverse styles of restaurants opening, the concept of what a restaurant even is has been upended, thanks to pop up dining spots and gourmet food trucks. In addition, the internet allows people to discover new styles of cooking and it also informs them exactly where their food is coming from and what might be in it. This newly educated public has helped restaurants become more accountable, raising the standards of what is acceptable.
One of the hallmarks of this golden age is the locavore movement. Also known as "farm to table," the bedrock of this dining style is consumption only of food that was grown, produced or sourced locally. Not only does this serve the community by supporting local businesses and jobs, it also allows the dining patrons the chance to know how their food was prepared. Genetically modified food is a big issue these days, and it can be hard to trace the line from producer to table when dining out at a national chain fine dining restaurant, but not when visiting a locally sourced restaurant.
Because of the hype surrounding this latest trend it might be easy to believe this is something new and only recently thought of. The fact is that "farm to table" dining has been going on for generations. The only difference is that back then, the table was not in the restaurant but in the dining room of the family house. Many of the restaurants that are described today as fusion restaurants - places that focus on traditional flavors of their heritage combined with typical menu items found in today's casual fine dining restaurants - got their start from recipes that have been part of a family for generations.
The United States is a bit of an exception when it comes to food preparation for the home. Modernization came early to this country by way of supermarkets, canned food and frozen produce. The population of many other countries still relied on local markets and growing their own food when it came to making the family meal. When these people decided to open their own restaurant, they did so the way they always had, by making everything from scratch, using fresh ingredients.
To determine if places such as Latin fusion restaurants jumpstarted the locavore movement or the locavore movement helped create a marketplace where fusion restaurants would thrive is somewhat akin to asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. The fact is that each helps support the other, and when they come together, it makes for an exciting and unique dining experience.
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