Being Japonaise: Understanding the Authentic Implications of Fusion Cuisine
The transition from cooking to culinary art is one of the manifold manifestations of the specializations of a society and its foray into the perfection of the physical representation of general ideology. Cooking is born out of necessity, whereas cuisine is the result of gastronomic experimentation and time-honored tradition. Food is as representative of collective identity and ideology as any other art form that a civilization produces and it is just as dynamic as the society that creates it. National cuisines often evoke images of well-known landmarks, providing an easy (and often oversimplified) method of identification. Even if individuals are unaware of the culinary traditions and praxis of a culture, they can still claim that they know that spaghetti is Italian or that sushi is Japanese, using this identification as a basis upon which to understand a complex culture. Fusion cuisine represents a more complex method of identification. The consumer has a more difficult time discerning the various parts of the dish and ascribing them to a particular culture. Fusion occupies the in-between of national identification; it belies the simplified culinary traditions that we have cataloged, forcing us to question our previously held notions of authenticity. Purveyors of fusion cuisine explore an indefinite territory of the reflected self and the other, navigating and negating patriotic pride to instead focus upon their understanding of postnational flavors rather than nationalistic meals. Fusion cuisine thus embodies an acceptance of the indefinite and constantly evolving nature of the transition from cooking to a cuisine of becoming.