She said, “Let’s not insult Chinese food. I prefer Chinese over most of the other cuisines. Chinese food is ideally bland and this is a masala riot. I would rather call it a ‘Chinjabi’ dish.”
Bonding with the new office colleagues on a damp and humid August afternoon she, on behalf of the newly formed group had ordered for some vegetable fried rice and chilly chicken from the nearby Chinese outlet. Having heard quite a few good things about the food outlet, which was apparently a to-go-to food destination for the office goers who worked at sector-2 in Noida, she had placed a full blown order for ‘Chinese’ food. She was only half expecting it to be authentic, but what came her way left a bad taste in her mouth, quite literally.
Another new-bee in the office, part of the same gathering was forced to recollect his memories of a lecture of marketing in his communication school. The professor, much-renowned marketing communication stalwart had briefed them about how McDonald’s, the American fast-food giant had brought in the recipe Mcaloo Tikki Burger with its inception in India in 1996. Globally McDonald’s was known for its hamburgers, beef and pork burgers. Most Indians being barred by religion could not consume beef or pork. To survive, the company had to be responsive to the Indian sensitivities. So McDonald’s came up with chicken, lamb and fish burgers to suit the Indian palate. He thought what name could be given to such food…. ‘Indiamerican’, may be ‘Amerindian’! He had given up. It was a waste of time.
Numerous other examples shoot up while discussing, what Wikipedia now terms as ‘Fusion Cuisine’. In the 1970s, Wolfgang Puck spearheaded the worldwide movement that is fusion cuisine, by blending European and Asian cuisines. The concept was put to action in California from where it spread throughout America.
Various reports and speculations hold various factors like migration and the concept of ‘Global Village’ responsible for the origin and evolution of fusion cuisine. Australia with no dearth of migrants has been waking up off-late to more and more fusion food at its numerous cafes and restaurants. Cities like Melbourne and Sydney are well recognized world-over for the quality and creativity of Asian-fusion restaurants. Talking in the Indian context, the growing popularity of fusion cuisines like the Chinese Bhel, Chinese Dosa and Gobhi Szechuan have been astonishing. Given the simplicity in cooking and lack of high-on-flavour-and-aroma spices in Chinese food, it has always been a favourite ‘base’ for experimenting and no stones are being left unturned in making the best of fusion cuisines with it.
The very idea of coming together of flavours originating from geographies and cultures poles apart, literally, is enticing and mouth-watering. The food that makes its way to the platter is obviously a result of experiments, alterations and some seriously out-of-box imagination. The others might just be shunned to the dark dustbin corners.
With no intentions to preach or teach, not at all, would leave all the Delhites with two good words- ‘Delhi Darbar.’
-Amit Roy, contributing author