Wednesday, February 15, 2006

And I thought I was fusion...

Everytime I am in Japan, I am amazed at how prevalent 'fusion' food is there as a part of any old restaurant. My sister and I have talked about this over and over how the newest, hottest thing in the restaurant scene right now is often something we have grown up with and how we routinely dab with at home - East has been fornicating with West on our palates for as long as I can remember!! Why is it so exciting to see konbu in the hipster restaurants? What's the big deal with using bonito broth to strengthen the risotto?! We've been doing that in Japan since the 80's!!!!!

Here's an example of how prevalent this fusion business is in Japan - a local spaghetti shop served these...

This spaghetti had pickled plums (ume) kneaded into it, served with toasted nori and a crushed pickled plum dressing. Warm, al dente, and gentle, it was everything best from both the Japanese world and the Italian world. Would it knock off the socks of anyone expecting authentic spaghetti? I'm sure!! Did it taste good? Absolutely!!! The fresh flavors of the plum blended perfectly with the somewhat plain firmness of the noodles themselves to provide a refreshing and nourishing bite. It was so smooth and easy to eat, I slurp up my entire plate in a matter of seconds, I think.

My mother had the creamier fish-roe spaghetti. Tarako (cod-roe) spaghetti is so common in Japan that we can buy pre-made tarako spaghetti sauces at most Japanese grocery stores. The saltiness, along with the briny smell of the ocean, of the fish roe is almost like anchovy sauce on authentic Italian pizza and provides a complexity to counter act any dull richness of the cream sauce. In addition, the pops of the fish roe acts as another source of epicurean pleasure - rich, creamy smoothness of the sauce complimented by periodic pockets of popping brine and oceany scent. Who wouldn't love that?!

And this is why I find myself eating at home more and more. If the restaurants want to charge me and arm and a leg for mediocre pseudo-fusion food, blah! I'll eat at home! ...Am I too harsh because of my rediscovered joy for blogging?

1 comment:

The Papa Bear said...

I recall going to a hip place and was quite perplexed when I was served a "fusion" dish. I don't remember exactly what my dish was, but it was some kind of a meat dish, but with an eatern Asian flavor. It was interesting and would have been an okay choice, except for the price, which was exorbitant (somewhere in the mid-$20 for just the dish).

Your home-cooked fusion meals are much, much, much better, Baby Bear. Can I have more of the natto spaghetti please pretty please?