Fusion: In Food and Life

Fusion is defined online as the ‘merging of different elements into a union.’

My favorite slam poet Joaquin Ziohuatanejo captures several beautiful fusions in his poem, ‘Speaking in Tongues’…

“Look… I have a brown daughter. You have a white son. Don’t let language be a barrier between them. Let them dance a salsa meringue together to the music of Johnny Cash. Let them eat arroz con pollo with a side of mac and cheese. Please… Let them be a blending of all accents, all colors, all thingsLet them be new variations of old themes.”

Last night, I found myself eating at Above Eleven, a swanky, 32nd floor restaurant (with a spectacular view) which serves up new variations of old themes. It’s well known for its Peruvian & Japanese fusion cuisine, also called Nikkei, which began a long time ago with Japanese immigrants in Peru.

This fusion cuisine merges the Peruvian sauces and main dishes with fish and spice mixtures telltale of Japanese influence. To create Causa Kani (above), the culinary artists have taken Peruvian style mashed potatoes, topped them with crab meat in a Japanese Togarashi mayo sauce, and pulled it all together with the rich Peruvian huancaína sauce. Delectable!

Or take Anticuchos, a common street food item in Peru usually made with beef heart, but it’s grilled in Japanese Yakiori style, and served with 3 Peruvian sauces (below). As I was eating these unusual yet alluring combinations, I realized that one cool thing about our global society is that we can take best culinary and cultural delights from all over the world and merge them. Like eugenics, only for food.

Nowadays, our food can’t always be categorized into neat, conventional labels such as ‘Peruvian’ or ‘Japanese.’ We have the best aspects of both seamlessly blended into each other, so it’s hard to tell where one style ends and one begins.

Just like fusion happens in cuisine, fusions in our life happen when different elements come together. We are products of fusion ourselves, beginning with our DNA, and we require a continual merging of elements when it comes to our experiences and knowledge, our relationships, our styles, our hobbies, our words.

Our fusions might be as unexpected and tasteful as Japanese sashimi drizzled with Peruvian sauce or as disastrous as green curry pizza (pic below). I tried to think of the different elements in my life as fusion cuisine… would my life taste good? If my relationship, the merging 2 people in a union, was fusion cuisine, would our styles and spices jive together?

We choose what we fuse. We need to balance all the elements in our life in order for it to taste right. If one element is too powerful, the whole fusion is thrown off. Luckily in life, we are able to discard any element that has too much flavor (or not enough), and we can merge all things we love and enjoy to create our own scrumptious, customized, fusion cuisine.

If your life was fusion cuisine, would it taste good? Do you have a favorite fusion? 


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