Maintain the originality of food
People long to connect with their culture. One of the key factors for the connection is to feel embedded with their roots. Culture is defined by many elements – music, food, rituals, art, drama, clotting, dressing, celebrations, customs etc. The culture is defined, created and integrated by a society for ages; it cannot be disturbed just because we feel like changing it. Generations of people grow in a culture and the cultural fabric binds them together.
Eating is something what is an extremely personal act. What we eat communicates to rest of the world our beliefs, enlightening and social backgrounds and experiences. It is a sort of evidence to how we think, who we are, and our intellectual qualities are portrayed through our style of cooking and eating. It is indeed interesting to note that food plays a major role in constructing our identities. This is across psychological, social and anthropological thinking because it also expresses how we are different than others. As humans we are used to differentiate ourselves on a daily basis.
In fact food is our national pride. It can be imitated but rarely duplicated.
Food experts argue that although globally food fusion is rampantly sold, the originality of a craft cannot be diminished. While fusion is not a new phenomenon, it has picked up impetus in the last decade as travel, trade, and ingredient accessibility have hit a new high. Fusion food definitely suits taste buds of some travellers, some staunch eaters feel otherwise – they feel fusion food is a strange-tasting gimmick.
Fusion food is a style of cooking that uses ingredients and techniques from around the world, especially one that combines Eastern and Western influences. It is a kind of fusion that gives the best of different cuisines and complements and enhances the taste of dishes.
Chinese, Japanese to Thai or Vietnamese or Singaporean, we evolve through Asia looking for our next favourite cuisine. Dhokla sandwiches, tandoori chicken, kababas, chicken tikka nazza, pizzas etc. They form part of the Indian fusion cuisine with a twist. But the questions that are an integral part of the chef and culinary debates are whether fusion is the evolution of our demand and understanding of the cuisine, or is it simply going be a gimmick of merging together any two flavours to produce a confused recipe? After all, a gimmick is a gimmick.
The food culture of the world has greatly evolved over the past 10,000 or more years.
Societies have nurtured and grown plants and animals which greatly increased the food supply for their food style and taste. The development of states and industries contributed to changes in vegetation and soil, new fuels for cooking, emergence of new seeds, and the blending of soils, crops, and fertilisers. The boost in travel, trade, and immigration led to the discovery of new culinary routes, spices, and tastes, and the merging of cuisines. In the era of colonisation, cultural identities remained desolate but cuisine paved the way for interesting inspirations and fusions due to the mixing of food habits and sourcing of products from across the colonised territories and the home countries of the colonials. In this way came the French-Vietnamese style of cuisine after a century-long control by the French over Vietnam.
Same is the case with Anglo-Indian cuisine which is a by-product of the British colonial influence in the region. The Anglo-Indian cuisine has become another culinary genre with stratified accessibility. This culinary evolution and intermingling of food habits has led to a fusion of culinary styles and ingredients.
When chefs push the barriers of the evolution of cuisine, fusion happens. With the world becoming a global village, access drives the so called fusion. For instance, Norwegian Salmon was never available in India historically. But now that it is, we have seen the birth of Salmon Tikka. Basically, fusion occurs when ingredients traditionally not found in the cuisine culture of a region make their way into a dish. So now, instead of using Indian River Sole to make tandoori fish, it is salmon that has found its way into the tandoor and so “Salmon tandoori” now is decorated in your plate. The same is the case with some exotic salads and dressings along with herbs imported from other part of world.
A variety of social, cultural and economic factors contribute to the development of our preservation and change of dietary patterns. The way society grows, the development, influences of other cultures and physiological, psychological factors and acquired food preferences and knowledge, can be distinguished from interpersonal or social factors such as family and group influences.
But, I am of an opinion that the originality of food and its authenticity cannot be restrained. If liking truly is that important a determinant of food choice, health practitioners should focus their efforts on preparing original styles in order to develop food habits. However, claiming that one determinant is dominant over the others implies knowledge about how the various determinants inter-relate in their influence on food choice. After all, “authentic” means enduring, or timeless; umpteen dishes have been evolved from so many cultures in the world. Many chefs and families struggle to maintain the local cuisine’s taste; because an “authentic” dish is one that captures the spirit of the originality!