Friday, July 20, 2012

"Asian Soul Food?" Yes, Please!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

If there's two things I love in this life it's food and Asian people. Seriously. It seems in every major time period of my life, I've always had a really good Asian friend. In childhood, my best friend was Japanese. In high school, I hung with some cool Filipinos. In college, seriously, all of my friends were Asian; Korean, Thai, Indian, Japanese. In my twenties, I bonded with a way cool Chinese chick. And you might know if you read this blog enough, that I have a serious crush on the coolest Asian dude on the planet, Kip Fulbeck.

And it goes without saying, that I love food. I love eating my way through different cultures. If I can't travel, I can still sample the flavors of other worlds and I love that. So, imagine my utter delight at discovering Roy Choi and his Korean tacos. Sadly, I haven't tasted his food, only read about it, but then I found out that Choi is not alone in creating his meltingpot medley of Korean and Mexican cuisine. Check out this article in the Atlantic and try not to cry and have your mouth water at the same time.

Choi is part of a tsunami of rule-breaking Asian American chefs who have created a new genre of cooking in America: a robust and astonishingly creative blend that draws on Asian, Latin, and Southern foods. Its growing ranks of practitioners bring sterling chef credentials and modernist cooking techniques to bear on the foods of their forebears.

What they're making is not just "modernist" Asian cuisine. It's a type of cooking that has filtered through the multiethnic influences of their upbringings: taco stands, fast food joints, barbecue shacks, hip hop, and graffiti. Theirs is not the "fusion" cooking of the late '70s and '80's, effete creations of European-trained masters who melded cultures with delicacy and nuance. Nor is it the cooking of Nobu Matsuhisa or Martin Yan, talented newcomers who tutored America in Asian ingredients and flavor combinations. This new wave of chefs is dishing up what I call Asian Soul Food: a gutsy, high-low mash up of street food and haute cuisine, old country flavors and new-fangled cooking techniques."

The story of the food and the way it came to be is a meltingpot masterpiece, don't you think? I love how food can be the connector between cultures. I love how these warring cultures on the streets have found a way to cozy up on the plate. It gives me hope. And a hunkering for a taco. Get me to Los Angeles, please. 

What's your favorite culinary mash up dish? Kinky gazpacho perhaps? I'm kidding. But, really. I'm listening.



Anonymous said...

I think I need to find some Korean tacos! My favorite fusion food ever came from a little restaurant in my neighborhood that just went out of business recently :( It was an Indian/Mexican mixture that was heavenly! The owner made very thin naan that resembled tortillas and filled them with curries and stews made in a Tandoori clay pot. She spread whichever Indian condiment you wanted on the flatbread (my fave was cilantro!) and then spooned the filling in and rolled it up like a burrito. Mmmmm...good and spicy deciousness! I love the creativity of chefs who practice fusing cuisines. A real-life meltingpot of flavors!

Professor Tharps said...

Indian/Mexican? That sounds so right and so good!


Ice Maker said...

These look delicious and perfect! Thanks for sharing it here