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Fusion — confusion?

“Fusion is confusion!” I’m sure you have heard that statement at some point over the last decade. It’s probably true that our guests right now prefer simple, tasty, authentic, local, comfort food and don’t necessarily crave excessively fancy culinary blends. However, I disagree with the systematic and almost fashionable tendency to proudly reject any kind of fusion.

To make my point, I’d like to use the example of Peruvian cuisine, which reflects more than 500 years of cultural and culinary exchanges.

It is no coincidence that Ferran Adria stated, “The future of gastronomy is being cooked in Peru.” Adria opened Patka in Barcelona this year where he “offers a strict fusion of just two types of cooking: Japanese and Peruvian.” José Andrés, another celebrity chef, will open a Chinese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in Washington, D.C., next year.

So why should we look at Peruvian cuisine and fusion in general in a more inspiring way?

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Lima in Fitzrovia. This bohemian neighborhood in London once was home to writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Arthur Rimbaud. Here you can also find Rainer Becker’s Roka, Michelin-starred Pied à Terre or Dabbous. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that such culinary diversity started in this district rather than at a hotel in Mayfair (but I will develop this very personal opinion in a different post).

I was fascinated by the colors, the freshness, the tastes and innovation of the Peruvian cuisine with its European influences at Lima.

Colorful, exotic flavors at Lima London
Colorful, exotic flavors at Lima London

Each dish in the restaurant is mainly using products from British local farms, but the chef adds some interesting imported touches like violet corn from Peru, black quinoa, yellow aji, roasted Amazonian cashews or red amaranth. There is definitely no confusion here — it’s the marriage of different influences, and it works.

The breadbasket
The breadbasket

This post is meant to pay tribute to the benefits of fusion, in particular when it’s evolved organically and naturally. For a Westerner like me, such food is a transporting voyage of discovery.

So let’s try not to be too simplistic but instead enjoy the best that fusion can bring us, especially when it is done with meaning, respect for the cultures and a kind of organic evolution.

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