Con-Fusion Foods and Cultures

I can’t stop myself. My mind keeps returning to an idea I expressed on this blog on Christmas day almost six years ago. It was December 25, 2013 that I proposed creating fusion dishes that would marry the flavors and textures of Mexican and Indian/Pakastani foods. Yes, I realize the idea might be considered by some as gastronomic or culinary appropriation. But as I’ve argued before, it is not appropriation; it is cultural celebration, giving recognition to and appreciation for the foodstuffs of other cultures.

By now, my idea (which I had not heard from others at the time) is not new. Just yesterday, I read an article in the Dallas Observer about a new (started in 2018) food truck, Halal Mother Truckers, that serves “Pakistani Tex-Mex.” Regardless that my idea has been appropriated and adapted elsewhere (yes, I know, I probably wasn’t the source of the idea), I intend to pursue it in my own kitchen that I call The French Kangaroo. The dishes I plan to prepare (over time) include:

  • lamb vindaloo tamales;
  • chicken vindaloo tacos;
  • tandoori carnitas;
  • lamb fajitas;
  • bhindi masala burritos;
  • gobhi Manchurian empenadas (to really mix it up);
  • baigan guisada enchiladas;
  • shrimp biryani con frijoles refritos.

I’ve been talking about doing this for, literally, years! It’s time I stop dreaming and start executing. When I do these things, I will write about the experiences and post photos, both here and at The French Kanagaroo. Speaking of TFK, it’s embarrassing how little I’ve written/posted to the page in recent months…and months…and months.

As I think about some of these prospective dishes, I envision additional cuisines slipping into the mix. Caribbean jerk chicken tacos, perhaps. Or German sausage biryani. Or, perhaps, chiles rellenos filled with doro wat alongside raita and basmati rice. The combinations could be endless. I can imagine a bowl of linguini flavored with leftover sauce from lamb vindaloo (if there is such a thing) and slices of nopalitos.

***

Schools should, from an early age, teach children about different cultures. Cultural differences should be celebrated. Not just foods, but ideas. Customs. The objective of preserving cultural identity, while ensuring cultural acceptance and assimilation, is a tough one. But it merits serious consideration. If we survive the asshole in the White House, we ought to try to restructure our own society so that we collectively appreciate and understand other cultures. Food gives us the opportunity to introduce other cultures to us and to introduce ourselves to other cultures. But it’s not the only way. Understanding the cuisines of a culture cannot replace understanding the beliefs and norms of a culture. I suppose I’m writing these words to emphasize that I recognize that we won’t accomplish world peace through food alone. But it’s a start.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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