Fusion Confusion

As I mentioned in my blog page “Woke or “Half-awake”, there is a fine line between Appreciation and Appropriation. For many, fusion cuisine seems to tiptoe that line. Fusion cooking is when a chef merges two cultural styles/traditions of cooking together to create something unique. Chefs choose to do this for various reasons, such as to display both sides of their ethnic backgrounds or even just the thrill of creating something new. For Roberto Espinosa, owner of Tacodeli in Austin Texas, fusion is “merging the flavors of both sides of our heritage to create something new. Like many successful fusion chefs, Espinosa values the ingredients and carefully selects the spices that go into his Tex-Mex food in order to provide customers with the best and most positive experience.

Breakfast taco from Tacodeli (P.C. Google)

However, some restaurants have chosen to redefine the word “fusion” as an excuse to get away with using racist stereotypes or claim to be an improvement of a certain food. For example, in 2012, a Minneapolis restaurant called “Chino Latino”, recieved much backlash after a racist ad they released. The advertisement was meant to inform people about the restaurant’s new addition of Indian inspired dishes, yet it was filled with Indian stereotypes. It features clearly offensive phrases such as “untouchables welcome” and “I.T. dept now hiring”. The fact that they thought making such remarks would entice people to spend money there is not only baffling, but gives a bad rep to actual fusion restaurants. The worst part is that it wasn’t even the first time “Chino Latino” was called out for this type of advertisement. They even serve a shot called the “chino bomber”, where they give customers a headband to wear and make them shout “banzai” after they drink it. We need to stop supporting restaurants like Chino Latino, that use the word “fusion” as a way of making a “quick buck” instead of focusing on delivering an honest representation of what fusion food truly is.

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