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Food Crosses Borders without a Passport

Expanding one’s mind through one’s palette.

One of the most exciting trends to hit the restaurant scene is the use of local ingredients being seasoned or cooked in ways that come from other cuisines. Restaurants are hotbeds of new food ideas and trends that people take home and incorporate into their own kitchens. The more that restaurant menus reflect locally sourced ingredients and offer creative ways to experience the blend of local and global in a single bit, the more that home cooks carry those ideas back to their dinner tables. Food is often the first thing that we learn about another culture. Experiencing flavorings from other cultures and blending ingredients is what keeps the food scene alive and us open to new food experiences.

Food is global.

Sota Atsumi is from Tokyo, Japan. He is a French-trained chef and globally inspired.  Hailed as one of the most creative and inspiring young chefs in France, he is taking the helm at Maison, hot on the list of restaurants that you will want to get a reservation at on your upcoming trip to Paris. What is most exciting about Atsumi is his high regard for classic French cuisine and the ways in which he is modernizing it. (Read more about Sota Atsumi in the NYT.)

Chefs come from every corner of the world, they train in traditional French cooking schools such as the famous Cordon Bleu to the CIA (the cooking one), to home kitchens in remote locations with home cooks. Many come from homes where they stood at the stove watching deft hands prepare traditional cuisine. Some go afar and return with ingredients that they introduce to the local cuisine, some are purists to the flavors of the area, and others bring an entirely new perspective to a place where they prepare foods never before encountered. This is the nature of the modern food world.

Food moves and inspires.

From the nomadic lifestyle of early humans to today’s globally trotted food, food does not care about boundary lines. Sauver magazine dedicated its entire Fall 2019, Issue #199 to “Food Does Not Care About Borders.” Look in your pantry, are all the foods, flavorings and seasonings in there from the area in which you live? No way.

When spaghetti and meatballs became a staple dinner menu item in the 20th century, we all thought we knew what Italian food was. We went to Italian restaurants owned by people who brought a new cuisine to our shores, and we embraced it. Customers went home to remake spaghetti and meatballs in their home kitchens and Marcella Hazan and Lydia Bastianich hit the food scene and taught home cooks how to really do it.

We did not know we wanted a global food experience until it happened. Nowadays Chefs read, travel, and experiment. Ingredients once deemed foreign are commonly found in urban/suburban and even rural supermarkets. Sometimes the ingredients are used in a traditional manner and sometimes not. It is how foods evolve, tastes change, new dishes emerge, and we relish the splendor of creativity that evolves out of blending seasonings of one cuisine with another.


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