I want to make an aside by commenting on what I observed when I was in New York last week. I entered several places and saw a remarkable mix of cultures and ethnicities, but some really stood out at me. In a Chinese restaurant, I saw Latinos preparing the food in the back and also serving. Also, I saw many people working in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant that were clearly not Italian and the food had a distinct fusion characteristic associated with it. I think we often like to say that anything that is not conforming to a strict set of guidelines may lack authenticity but is this really the case? We have seen instances (like in intersex) where we have to “think outside the box” and look at things on a case-by-case basis to come to an understanding of it so does this same logic not apply to foods?
Elsewhere in Manhattan, I saw extremely eclectic work forces in many different sectors and my point is that in a city that is so culturally diverse, it is inevitable that there will be fusions of one manner or another and that this is not necessarily a bad thing or a loss of authenticity (although Hitler would disagree). In other words, we do not need to maintain these purities in what we consider authentic, but we must acknowledge that every culture or ethnicity has its own distinct and rich history. However, in this century there is increased globalization and integration among all of these cultures that is leading to new and exciting cultures born from mixes across many individuals.
The foods can be thought of as a case in point so to speak. We have fusions of Japanese food in types of sushi (like the California roll or New York roll) but we also have this type of integration culturally as well. For example, Latinos or Latin Americans are a mix of Spanish or European descent with the Native inhabitants of the land that has lead to a fusion and creation of a new culture. This is not a loss of authenticity in the Latino individual, he is no longer neither Spanish nor Native American, but something else all together. Such is the beauty of diversity. Food, I think, is the same way and this is something we have to appreciate no matter what it is applied to.
On that note, I will say that the whole of New York is obsessed with pizza and that I’ve noted many an Italian enjoying a good slice without any complaints of it’s lack of authenticity as it pertains to Italian food. Rather, they seem quite fond of this fusion of Italian-American.