Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fusion Too Far?

I find discussion about ‘fusion’ cuisine, and ‘authenticity’ equally interesting and amusing. I may have told this story before (but over one thousand eight hundred posts is too many to pick through) – but I once saw on a menu (and ordered) a single dish that paid a serious nod to five different cuisines. I remember ‘fettucine’ and ‘tandoori’ in the description, but have forgotten the other three. I hope my memory fails me out of necessity to forget such culinary mongrelism rather than due to dementia.

The other example, that I have perhaps given once too often, is this: how essential is the tomato to the cuisine of some areas of Italy? Before the Americas were opened up to the world on the cusp of the sixteenth century, there were no tomatoes in Italy – or anywhere else in the ‘Old World.’ So, are tomatoes an ‘authentic’ ingredient in Italian food? Likewise, the potato in India. There are other examples, but you get my drift.

Sometimes, a prolonged (even if non-deliberate) fusion results in a totally new cuisine – such a
is my personal favourite, Anglo-Indian. But what about Anglo-Indian-Italian? I give you two recipes which qualify for this description, for you to decide its merits.

Curried Macaroni.
Break into three pieces, each tube of half a pound of Geoffrey Taganrok Macaroni, which is the best in the market. Put it into a porcelain lined dish or saucepan, cover with boiling water, and add a scant teaspoonful of table salt and boil fifteen minutes; drain, place the Macaroni on a hot platter, cover wit a Curry Sauce made of J.P. Smith’s Curry Powder, over this strew a liberal quantity of (J.P.S) Italien Parmesan Cheese and serve.
Tempting Curries, by J.P. Smith & Company (New York, 1891)

Curried Spaghetti.
Ingredients: ¾ lb. spaghetti, boiling salted water, 1 teaspoon butter, 1 heaped teaspoon curry powder, 1 cup milk or strained stock, salt and cayenne, 6 small round tomatoes, 2 hard-boiled eggs (optional), lemon and parsley for garnish.
Method: Place spaghetti in boiling salted water in saucepan and boil without lid till tender. Drain through colander, return spaghetti to saucepan, add butter and curry powder, mix thoroughly, add milk or stock, stir till boiling, then simmer for 20 minutes. Place tomatoes in buttered baking dish and bake till tender. Arrange spaghetti mixture in centre of hot serving dish, with tomatoes round it. Garnish with sliced hard-boiled eggs or with egg yolk pressed through a sieve, and sliced lemon sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Sunday Times (Perth, WA) Sunday 3 July 1938

Quotation for the Day.

Indigenous foods die when no one learns to cook them.
Jean Zimmerman, Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth


Liz + Louka said...

When we were staying in Edinburgh in - I think - 1984, we ate several times at our local "International Restaurant". Its version of fusion cuisine was chips with everything: curry and chips, spaghetti bolognaise with chips, chow mein with chips, etc.

The Old Foodie said...

I remember a cafeteria in Devon (where I lived for a year in 1979-80) where EVERYTHING came with chips AND mashed potato!