Glocavorism: Global Flavors, Local Savors

Saturday, August 22, 2009 46 comments


Oshi Zushi: Wisconsin Smoked Trout and Nova Salmon

How do you make a distinctive dish without its most distinctive ingredient?

This is a challenge that every cook has or will face in the kitchen at some point, particularly with regard to global cuisines that call for a certain element which may not be readily available. I recently found myself in this predicament when I decided to make atchara, the popular Filipino condiment/side dish of pickled green papaya, despite the glaring fact that a long search for said unripe fruit proved to be, well, fruitless. Fortunately, I found a vegetable substitute in locally-grown kohlrabi, whose mildly sweet and slightly crunchy texture made it a satisfactory stand-in.

I solved my atchara dilemma by using a local ingredient to replace a more exotic one, but this simple exchange had me asking a broader question: how do we reconcile the widespread popularity of global cuisines and their variety of uncommon ingredients, with the rise of the local/seasonal food movement?

The G-Word: Globalization

One of the most controversial aspects of modern society is globalization, the process by which goods, services and information are exchanged through a free-flowing, worldwide network. On a positive note with regard to food, it allows us to experience the flavors of other cuisines in our own homes by making once-uncommon ingredients more accessible, not only in ethnic markets but also at local groceries. On the other hand, the globalization of food is viewed by many as a contemporary form of cultural imperialism, specifically the Western (read: American) homogenization of other countries' foodways.

McDonald's Hong Kong: Beef Fan-tastic
Sliced teriyaki beef in rice patty 'buns'
(Photo by selva/flickr)

This criticism is most often leveled at U.S. Big Food behemoths such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola, who have responded with a marketing strategy that 'localizes' their product offerings by incorporating regional tastes and customs (e.g McD's vegetarian McAloo Tikki Burger in India). However, transforming foreign food into local eats is primarily initiated as a sales strategy by these outside firms  and not as an adaptation by the local residents who will be consuming it. So, what happens when this is turned around?

Glocalism: Fusion Food

Enter glocalization. In the past, the exchange of material goods, like food, and of cultural knowledge, such as recipes, were often carried by people in migration and required long distances and lots of time. Today, modern technology has made such exchanges more efficient, relatively effortless, and in the case of the Internet, nearly instantaneous:
"[P]ersonal mobility has vastly accelerated the migration of people between their original home places and external locations . . . Increasingly, the population within any area becomes mixed, while those who leave retain memories and contacts that lead them to protect various kinds of links with the area from which they moved. Thus, the local contains much that is global, while the global in increasingly penetrated and re-shaped by many locals. The word glocalization usefully captures this apparent contradiction." 
(Riggs, n.p.)
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was one of the first to explain this love child of the global and the local in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree:
"[H]ealthy glocalization [is] the ability of a culture, when it encounters other strong cultures, to absorb influences that naturally fit into and can enrich that culture . . . The whole purpose of glocalizing is to be able to assimilate aspects of globalization into your country and culture in a way that adds to your growth and diversity, without overwhelming it."
(Friedman, 282-3)
But he frames glocalization as a strategy to preserve culture (e.g. traditional Malaysian street food stalls) against powerful foreign forces (e.g. American fast food restaurants). What does it mean on a smaller scale - when someone like me, steeped in Western culture, takes a traditional recipe from another society and changes important elements of it to assert my locality?

Glocavorism: 'Think Global, Eat Local'

We might call the growing awareness of eating locally paired with the popularity of ethnic foods as glocavorism* - the flavors of global cuisines achieved with community-sourced ingredients. The principles of local and seasonal eating address economic, environmental, social and health concerns: supporting local farmers and businesses; reducing ecological costs of long transportation and industrialized farming; encouraging the personal interaction of producers and consumers as community members; and providing unprocessed, nutritious fare.  But I would love to hear more discussion about their impact on the cultural importance of food as a group symbol and as part of personal ethnic identity.

(Image from Wikipedia.com)
Food as an emblem of a culture is powerful: certain foods or cooking styles are a source of pride and jealously guarded as examples of cultural heritage. In Italy, for example, the organization Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana has established a strict protocol to preserve the tradition and authenticity of Neapolitan pizza. Within its 11-page set of rules, the AVPN dictates the use of specific Italian ingredients, such as doppio zero (very finely-ground flour), San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana (AVPN 'Disciplinare' 2, 5).

Basically, the use of locally sourced ingredients outside of Italy would disqualify a pizza from being considered truly Neapolitan. Many other regional cuisines call for ingredients that also must be imported (say, green papaya for atchara made in Minnesota). So then, what should take precedence: the authenticity of a culturally symbolic dish or the principles of local eating?

On a more personal note, I have found that consuming Filipino food is one way to reassert my ethnic identity. For many immigrants, native dishes represent deeply emotional ties to homes left behind and help ease the stresses of transitioning into a new, unfamiliar culture. While many fruits and vegetables originating in other lands are now cultivated in the United States, others might only be available during certain seasons or are not grown at all due to incompatible environmental conditions or, perhaps, low demand. Is substituting ingredients, as I did, sufficient to recreate a dish that holds such personal connotations or does such an exchange fundamentally change the food and therefore its meaning? Is it possible to eat locally/seasonally and still eat 'culturally'?

Unfortunately, I have yet to find definitive answers to any of these questions. Both the issues of environmental and social responsibility, as represented by the local food movement, and the concerns of authenticity and cultural connections are equally important to me. I certainly hope that it is possible to find a balance between them.

Care to share your thoughts on these questions?

*Glocavorism combines the concepts of glocalization and locavorism.

Works Cited:
Friedman, Thomas L. The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Farrar, 2000.
"Il Disciplinare (Method of Production)." Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Naples: (n.d.)
Riggs, Fred W. Glocalization, Diasporas and Area Studies. University of Hawai'i: (Draft, n.d.)
Other Sources:
Wikipedia.com: Globalization, McDonald's products
Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (English-language site)

Rising Sun over 10,000 Lakes: Making Sushi in MN

I am far from alone in declaring a love of Japanese cuisine, especially sushi. Unlike other favorite dishes such as those from Thai, Indian or Italian cookery, I have never considered making sushi myself, given the difficulty (and cost) of procuring super-fresh seafood in Minnesota. Besides, why try to compete with an itamae (sushi chef) who has undergone years-long apprenticeship to master the technique? But then, I came across the book Sushi: Taste and Technique by Kimiko Barber and Hiroki Takemura.


(Image from Amazon.com)
One look at the monochromatic cover photograph of battera, or mackerel pressed sushi, and I was enamored. I was intrigued to learn that oshi zushi is the oldest form of sushi-making, predating nigiri zushi (hand-formed sushi, which was invented in the 18th century) by several hundred years and based on a traditional method of preserving fish in rice and packed in wooden boxes for inland transport (Barber, 168). Its long existence nearly came to an end during the post-WWII Allied occupation of Japan:
"[S]ushi chefs still made traditional pressed sushi, which took some time to make. . . When the Allied Occupation authorities issued a directive allowing the exchange of one cup of rice for 10 pieces of nigiri zushi and a sushi roll, they did not include any other type of sushi. To keep his shop open, the sushi chef was forced to make hand-formed [nigiri] sushi."
(Barber, 8)
Thankfully, pressed sushi is still very much alive and well. Although Barber states that oshi zushi was considered more time-consuming, I thought it was the perfect method for me. It requires only a wooden mold, called an oshibako, prepared sushi rice, and toppings that may include fresh vegetables, tamago (Japanese omelette) and, of course, fish. While fresh raw fish may be used, smoked or cooked seafood is well-suited to this form. Last week, I gave it a go and, in keeping with the spirit of glocavorism, I made this traditional Japanese food with a local ingredient.

Oshi Zushi
(from Sushi: Taste and Technique)

When I read that smoked fish was particularly good for pressed sushi, the first thing that came to mind was Wisconsin's Star Prairie Trout, available at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. Their fresh fish was delicious steamed and served with Bacon-Cranberry Wild Rice but I had my eye on their smoked trout. I wasn't disappointed - the subtle sweetness in both the fish and the sushi rice was heightened by the smokiness of the former and the vinegary tang of the latter. To round out the platter, I also made pressed sushi with Nova Salmon from Trader Joe's and added a small serving of atcharang kohlrabi in place of pickled ginger.


Yield: 6 pieces per pressing

Equipment

Pressed sushi mold (oshibako)
Very sharp chef's knife

Ingredients

Prepared sushi rice (Try these recipes from FoodCreate.com and About.com)
Suggested toppings: smoked fish such as salmon or trout; marinated fish such as mackerel; cooked seafood such as shrimp or eel; tamago (omelette); fresh vegetables such as cucumbers

To make:


1. Prepare the oshibako by soaking in cold water for approximately 15 minutes. This will help keep the sushi rice from sticking to the box. Alternately, you may line the inside of the box with plastic wrap;

2. Slice your topping ingredients lengthwise so that they are flat (and to your preferred thickness), then place them on the bottom of the mold (skin side down, if applicable), covering any gaps;
3. Add sushi rice until mold is two-thirds full. Using your fingers, spread the rice evenly and firmly throughout the container;
4. Put the lid on the mold and press firmly, compressing the rice and toppings. Leaving the lid on, carefully pull up the sides of the box;
5. Remove the lid and gently flip it over so that the topping side is on top. If needed, carefully run your knife between the sushi and the mold to help release it.
6. Dip a very sharp knife in water and slice the pressed sushi in half, then slice again in three equal pieces.
7. Serve with pickled ginger (or atchara!)

楽しむ (Enjoy!)*
*per Google Translator


46 comments:

  • doggybloggy said...

    Fantastic information! I am often substituting and altering and I usually find the outcome very pleasing. beautiful sushi photos and I need to get me one of these boxes - I often see varieties of sushi making accessories but I rarely fork over the 'yen' to get any...

  • Bob said...

    I don't think there is one single answer to those questions. Food is so completely personal and yet inseparable from any given culture, everyone is going to have a different answer. And some people are just going to waffle around without answering at all. Like me. ;)

  • girlichef said...

    I am constantly thinking about glocalization (although I didn't realize there was a name for it until now). I want to show my support for local farmers...but I adore cuisine from all parts of the world...so what's a girl to do? I do think it has to do with how you feel on a personal level. If substitutions and the love you put into the dish make it feel right to you, then YES, by all means. If you must use products that have come from far reaches of your own country...or another country then I say go for it. As with most things, I think being mindful and conscious of your choices should be...are...the way to do things. Wonderful post.

  • Ricardo said...

    Looks amazing and I am sure, delicious, I never really have sushi outside my house, only the one made by me but it always pleases me aestheticly as well as flavouring..grats for this work of art.. cheers kisses xxx

  • Susan @ SGCC said...

    Very insightful and though-provoking post. You pose some excellent questions. My philosophy about food is much more simplistic. I always try to find the best and freshest local ingredients I can for any dish, ethnic or not. When I am cooking an ethnic dish, I do my best to find authentic ingredients, and if I can't - I improvise or make something else.

    I don't think it's always necessary (or feasible) to be 100% authentic when cooking food from other cultures. Sometimes, it's more a matter of technique than specific ingredients. Also, I believe it is the thought that counts. If I can successfully capture the "essence" of a particular culture in a dish, that's okay too. For me, it's all about making the most of what you have.

  • KennyT said...

    Aiyaya, those questions are very difficult for me to answer!

    But the sushis u make look so delicious! Love the presentation too, makes people happy!

  • lisaiscooking said...

    Your smoked trout sushi looks delicious! Great use of a local ingredient too. I struggle frequently with local vs authentic. I try to limit my use of imported or distance-transported items but haven't eliminated using those items. I think there's value in honoring cultures by importing authentic products, and there's obvious value in shopping locally. I'm not sure what the right answer is, and importing in moderation sounds too simple.

  • Anh said...

    Hat off to you, the sushi looks fantastic.

    Your questions are valid. For me, I try to use local ingredients as much as possible. However, it’s not always possible to get Asian ingredients in Australia where I live.

  • zerrin said...

    I must admit that I don't like to see Mc Donald's or Burger King in every city of my country (a few in each city), which is a result of globalism. They are always so crowded with teenagers and the young while local restaurants are waiting for customers. Those fast food restaurants all over our country help the young generation forget their own traditional food culture. Isn't it a kind of cultural imperialim? Am I too harsh?

    As for substituting local ingredients with something else, it is the best way to feel the emotional ties to homes.

    Your sushi looks wonderful! It makes me stick on my pc screen.

  • Miakoda said...

    Absolutely beautiful! I know what you mean about having to improvise when certain ingredients aren't available. That fact had led me to learn making many things from scratch and finding substitutes as well! :)

  • Steph said...

    Your post really resonates with my own thoughts lately. I've just recently begun to learn more about eating more ethically, which includes locavorism, and have been perplexed with how to negotiate the very questions you brought up. Being raised in a Filipino immigrant home, my parents never thought about where things came from - they were just happy to have ingredients available at the local Phil-Oriental market. As a transplant from other metro cities w/ larger Filipino populations, I find myself in the same situation in Minnesota. So it is an extra barrier it seems to make - not just Filipino food - but ethical Filipino food. Maybe one day we can meet up and trade other thoughts on the subject!
    p.s. I made kohlrabi atchara the other day before seeing your post! But I have yet to post that one :)

  • Lee said...

    Terrific post! Very thought provoking, with great pictures too. The way our country approaches food is in many ways not dissimilar from how we approach language - how do we assert the cultures of our ancestors and still fully embrace our local environment?

    Your approach to local sushi is fantastic too - I will try some soon myself. Thanks.

  • The Beancounter said...

    very profound question (meaning, difficult for me to answer)...

    fortunately for me, it's easy to "glocalise" Filipino food downunder as 99% of ingredients are available (locally grown) where i live...thanks to Qld subtropical weather...

    btw, i've taken photos of Filipino menus of "global fast food places" like McDo and KFC...might post 'bout them in the future...

  • ValleyWriter said...

    As everyone else has said, you raise a very good question - excellent "food for thought." I also ponder the question of eating locally when you live in a climate where little grows for 7 months of the year (that's New England, for me). I find it hard to truly eat seasonally and locally and still have a well-rounded diet that pleases everyone in the household. I'm not sure what the best answer is to that - accept the limitations or force others to change their food preferences... When dealing with another grown adult, it's a delicate balance, to say the least.

  • Phyllis said...

    The sushi photos are gorgeous! I've never tried pressed sushi before, but I plan on getting an oshibako so I can try making this myself! And I often make sushi at home because it's hard to find in my small town :)
    Regarding the local movement vs globalization - while I try to be cognizant of the carbon footprint of the food I eat and the ingredients I use, I could never become a strict locavore because that would require me to give up a lot the food from my childhood. My food memories of certain ethnic dishes are so distinct that they are not worth having unless the ingredients are authentic. So yes, I do often purchase ingredients that have travelled thousands of miles (ie. fish sauce from Southeast Asia or century egg from Taiwan ;)) And I wouldn't be able to make homemade sushi without a good quality rice vinegar or mirin from Japan! But I'd like to think that I balance off those occasional guilty purchases by always filling up my grocery cart with local seasonal produce.

  • Daily Spud said...

    My oh my, what questions you pose.

    I think that the question of eating culturally is clearly a stickier one if you're an ex-pat or even if you're a couple of generations removed from a country but still immersed in that culture by means of family and traditions. It's all very well for me to go making Thai dishes, say, using ingredients that I can get here but a Thai person living here might not feel the same way about the substitutions at all.

    I can liken it to the way an Irish person feels about Guinness when they go abroad. It's commonly said here that Guinness 'doesn't travel well'. You'll drink the Guinness you can get abroad and even, long term, get used to it, but it is not, no way, no how, the same thing as drinking it here in Ireland. So what do you do? I think that, to a degree, whether it is by choice or not, people who emigrate have to accept that it's not always going to be possible to make food exactly like it was at home. On the other hand, there will always be a special excitement associated with being able to get the real thing in foreign parts (for me that would be things like Barry's tea and Tayto crisps) and there's always going to be a demand for that which will be fulfilled using decidedly non-local transportation methods.

    There's no easy answer to this one I fear.

  • Palidor said...

    Absolutely beautiful pictures.

    You pose some very thought-provoking questions, to which there are no easy answers. I guess the best solution would be to live where the foods that are part of our culture are grown. But that is really not feasible, so we must think of the next best option.

    Substitution is one good option. I think the heart and soul of a dish comes not from any one particular ingredient, but from the person who lovingly makes the dish. Other options are to grow different ingredients locally and to transport foods using less fossil fuels will allow us to remain culturally-connected to our pasts, yet be gentler on the planet.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Thank you all for sharing your insight into this topic!

    Doggybloggy - Thank you! Believe me, it took a lot of hemming and hawing before I finally bought the oshibako (and a sushi mat). Reading your blog, I know how adept you are at adapting and creating fantastic dishes - I'm trying to develop that fluidity with using ingredients!

    Nora - Thanks so much! The box is such a simple construction and I can't wait to continue experimenting with toppings. 8-)

    Elra - Many thanks! IMO, the box makes sushi so much easier. 8-)

    Bob - You're not waffling! That's pretty much the conclusion I keep coming to - in the end, it's so personal that there is no wrong or right answer (I hope!)

    Girlichef - I agree! Achieving a balance where we support and recognize our local suppliers when we can but also try to respect the importance of authenticity of dishes is difficult but I think it is up to the individual to find that equilibrium!

    Ricardo - Thank you! This was my first attempt at any kind of sushi. You will have to share some pointers on how you make yours!

    Andrea - Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me to know that you enjoy them! 8-D

    Susan - You've hit on an important point that I should remember: that it isn't always necessary or feasible to be 100% authentic. In fact, adaptation and improvisation is the way that cuisines have evolved throughout the years. Food is not static and it develops through creativity. Thank you so much for you input!

    Kenny T - They're difficult for me, too, which is why I passed them on to all of you! 8-D

    Lisa - Thank you for you comment! Both preserving authenticity and practicing local eating and shopping are equally important to me, too. I know that for some people, authenticity is a matter of symbolic pride, if it is food of their own culture. But I also feel that it is a sign of respect that someone who is not a native diner takes the time to try and make it as close to authentic as possible, while also preserving their own beliefs and ideals. Is it a cop out for me to say, do what feels right for each of us? 8-)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Replies, cont'd

    Anh - Thank you! I sometimes envy those who live in temperate climates like California (or Australia) where the growing seasons are longer so that produce is year-round. Here in Minnesota there are definite limitations on what and for how long locally-grown ingredients are available, so I suppose the degree of these questions is so different depending on where we live!

    Zerrin - You are not too harsh at all! In some countries, these American fast food restaurants have become so commonplace that young children have grown up with them and actually think they are part of their own culture! On one hand, I think it is terrible when local foodways are lost to these establishments; but then, globalism has made it possible for me to find certain ingredients that must be brought from far away. It can be so confusing! For me, the US is my home so substituting ingredients in Filipino dishes in a way honors both aspects of me.

    Miakoda - Thank you! I enjoyed trying making these; it's great that sushi is primarily about technique and is very flexible about ingredients! As I improve my cooking skills, I'm learning to improvise more. That is one good thing about substituting even if it's not authentic to a dish - at least I will try to make the dish instead of simply setting it aside!

    Steph - I certainly hope we can meet and share our thoughts on eating ethically AND ethnically! The fact that there are no Filipino restaurants in the Twin Cities (and therefore, I could not recapture through food that sense of ethnic identity that is missing when I am not near other Filipinos) I resolved to learn to make our cuisine. For the most part, I've been happy but as with the atchara, I've had to make compromises. But as others have noted here, what is most important is not necessarily the ingredients but the feeling one invests and evokes from the foods we make, no matter where we get the ingredients.

    Lee - Thank you so much! In the past, food was a way to fully assimilate our immigrant populations (which in essence demands that one gives up old cultural ties) but with the importation of 'exotic' ingredients, it is now more reflective our multicultural approach. I love that aspect of it but at the same time, supporting our local sources is an imperative. It's such tricky navigation!

    Beancounter - There are definitely those of us who are fortunate to live in places where certain foods can be grown as easily as in their places of origins. I envy you! 8-)
    I hope you do post those photos because I refused to enter these places when we visited the Philippines last December - not because I have anything against McDo's. I just vowed not to eat someplace that I could get at home. The whole point was to eat everything that I could not get in Minnesota!!
    And definitely get the box! I'm having fun thinking of different toppings!

    Helen - Thank you! I was fortunate to have found this at a cooking store in Minneapolis and wonder what other Japanese cooking implements I'm missing!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    More replies, cont'd!

    Erica - Thanks! I enjoyed using this sushi box. Now I need to come up with some different toppings!

    ValleyWriter - Yes, it's the same issue here in Minnesota. We are now in the our growing season when local produce is abundant and so delicious. But in the winter time, I would miss so many vegetables and fruits if I didn't accept that they have to be shipped in from long distances. It really is a high-wire act at times, isn't it? 8-) Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    5 Star Foodie - Thank you! You've just made me realize that I fuss about the question between eating locally and culturally only when it comes to the foods of my own ethnicity and yet I didn't blink using local ingredients for the sushi! Another thing to analyze . . . ! 8-D

    Phyllis - We've been watching our budget so one of the first things we cut out was our sushi dinners! 8-( But the oshibako is a savior, as long as I stick with cooked or smoked ingredients - can we say unagi and kani? Mmmmm . . . !
    You've hit on the issue exactly as I've been mulling it - it's so difficult for us to give up not only those memories but also just the sense of being we get from eating certain foods of our cultural heritage. However, as I've lived most of my life in the West, it's not as difficult for me to sometimes substitute because it reflects that part of me as well. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for someone who has just moved here.

    Spud - You've brought up such an important point that I missed: for many immigrants, there is that conscious choice of moving and giving up many things because they are searching for something else that will be of equal value, whether it is financial stability or political freedom or a host of other reasons. I guess that because of globalization, we now take it for granted that we have a good chance of finding foods that used to be available only in their place of origins.
    And I do struggle with this issue mainly when it comes to my own ethnic heritage; otherwise, I can go either way - getting authentic ingredients or substituting local food - when it comes to another cuisine. Hmmmm . . . .

    Palidor - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I love the idea that the true essence of a dish is the intent of the person who makes it! In the end it may be as many others here have commented: food is a deeply personal choice and although we have a responsibility to our community, we have our own unique needs and memories that must also be considered. These are difficult choices but we should do our best to find our own balance. 8-)

  • Teanna said...

    Wow. Glocalism is such an interesting concept, but it totally makes sense. Big companies don't care about assimilating into the culture, they care about making money and doing it any way that they can!

  • Hornsfan said...

    Beautiful sushi photos - I'm amazed by the results, you make it look like a work of art, akin to what sushi masters do (and charge good $$ for too!).

  • My Carolina Kitchen said...

    The sushi is drop dead gorgeous. The sandwich at McDonald's in Hong Kong is very interesting. McDonald's sold beer in Germany, which we found unusual but considering it was Germany, maybe it was just normal.

    Globalization is more and more a part of our lives. The world gets smaller every day.
    Sam

  • Dee said...

    First, I'd like to say your sushi photos are just beautiful. Your blog always makes me think & ponder the subjects you approach. Yes, the mobility has truly accelerated the migration of people but also the foods they enjoy. Having traveled or lived in Northern Mexico for 2 decades I was surprised to find cuisines from around the globe which previous years had not been available. At the same time saddened to see chain fast food merchants replacing taco stands & food vendors of the past.
    We all need to eat, shop & act responsibly. I do love your tiny sushi mold. I have found a couple of small plastic versions I have not yet used. Should I use plastic wrap with those as well? Thanks again!

  • OysterCulture said...

    With regards to Globalization in terms of food, isn't it almost a back handed compliment to the culture, recognizing that their tastes are different and with that difference they have something to offer and so bring those ingredients and techniques to what are not traditional dishes. I say that tongue in cheek, because I agree - it definitely has something to do with sales, because if the straight all American Big Mac had met expectations they probably never would have considered adapting to local flavors.

    With regards to Glocavorism aren't you doing what countless of immigrants have done before? Taken the knowledge of your cooking and adapted what could be found locally to the dishes you knew and loved. It might not have been the same, but its the new reality? Conversely, does the chilies we've come to expect in Indian and Thai cooking make those cuisines any less authentic given the Spanish, through the spice trades, brought them from Mexico? If we take the argument about pizza to the extreme, tomatoes came from Mexico too, so even those San Marzano tomatoes are not truly Italian, unless there is a time limit on newness.

    Countries have been borrowing other countries cooking and making it their own for a long time. Curry is a prime example of this having started out in Indian, spread to Thailand, the Caribbean and points beyond, and is even thought to be the precursor to Mexico's mole.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Teanna - On the surface, it's rather nice to see them tailoring their menus to local tastes; the real concern, however, is that the underlying traditional foodways are being displaced (e.g. individual eating vs. communal eating). Wouldn't it be interesting if McD's was served like dim sum? 8-D

    Hornsfan - Thank you! I'm not quite at the level of the itamaes but I'll take the compliment! 8-D

    Sam - It's such a double-edge sword: globalization on a personal level can be such a convenience and positive (e.g. travel, food choices) but on a societal scale, it seems to offer a culturally homogenous future.

    Dee - Thank you so much! I've always considered food to be the first (and tastiest) step toward expanding our worldview. But it seems so unbalanced with Western/American food culture (backed by corporations) being so ubiquitous.

    As for the plastic sushi mold, I would use plastic wrap, which I plan to do even with the wooden one. I think it will make 'un-molding' so much neater!

    Spryte - Thank you! I was totally intimidated, too, but when I read the instructions, it wasn't that hard. However, I am not going to attempt fresh RAW fish - I'll stick to smoked and cooked seafood when I make this at home! 8-D

    Sophie - Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it. 8-)

    Juliana - Thanks! I'm excited to try out new toppings, now that I'm getting the hang of using my oshibako.

    OysterCulture - Thank you for your thoughtful comments! In the case of Big Food companies like McDs, the food itself is nearly secondary to the brand and more importantly, the lifestyle, which they are selling. So adapting their menu to local tastes is no big deal - the concern is how they influence things such as foodways (e.g. only after the arrival of American fast food companies did the Japanese get used to eating while standing up).

    As for glocavorism and immigrant adaptation of local ingredients to traditional dishes, the difference is that the latter is executed by the native diners and, critically in the past, out of necessity because of lack of certain ingredients. The evolution of cuisines in the past have been a slow process in contrast to the present. Quite frankly, it took time (relatively speaking) to introduce new plants/ingredients to a locale and have it take root in the food culture. But nowadays, the product and the information on how to use it can be accessed almost immediately! What might be the consequences of such acceleration? Do non-native diners and cooks have the opportunity and the time to actually learn the flavors as well as the cultural meanings behind certain foods to fully appreciate it as a whole example of material culture specific to a group?

    That is one of the issues that I mull over and it's not one-sided: ethnic food restaurants in the US not only tailor their menus to American tastes but also their foodways. For instance, nasi lemak is traditionally a breakfast meal in Malaysia but appears as a dinner entree in the West; rendang is a slow-cook method that is traditionally a feast food prepared and eaten by the larger community but here, it is served as an individual dish. How much do we miss in learning about a new culture through their food if we do not experience it fully beyond taste?

    As for authenticity of cuisine being negated due to the origins of certain ingredients, I certainly don't subscribe to that. The composition of food goes well beyond the individual ingredients and encompasses technique as well as cultural symbolism and it is again a long process. What is unfortunate is that those long-ago sources are often forgotten and uncredited.

    Whoo! Sorry about the torrent of words - nothing quite gets me going than discussing food and foodways in culture! 8-D We need to get together and just TALK FOOD one of these days!

  • Forager said...

    Necessity breeds innovation right? Your sushi look great and I am all for glocavorism - when I couldn't get the specific type of Shanghai lobsters we tried in Shanghai so I substituted them with yabbies (you call them crawfish) and relived my Shanghai experience. Yum!

  • Lori said...

    An incredible post with so much information. The topic is a constant struggle for me and I am happy to be introduced to the term Glocavorism. I definitely don't want to lose my excess to global foods and it has been the hardest adjustment for me regarding where we live in Brazil. I love the variety back home, it doesn't exist for me here. At the same time I'm all about local and seasonal. I do believe it is possible to find a balance.

    When talking about globalization of foods, I realize that on many levels this is one category, but in my mind I have there are different kinds. This has to do with my health background. I view a cultural ingredient being available halfway across the world much differently than McD's and KFC serving fat and preservative laden foods in other cultures regardless of how modified it has been. If globalization is disrupting another culture to the point of hurting their health I don't view that as a positive move, if it is enhancing cultural views via natural foods to me that is good. I guess many might feel you can't separate it, but in my mind it is.

    I think we can alter recipes using the ingredients we have available. However, this thought brings me to why travel is such a priority in my life. I want to experience the real thing and I guess deep down I feel that is only possible by going to the source (granted that its not to a McDs or a restaurant offering tourist trap flavors :))

  • Sarah said...

    I think that unless you are immersed in the culture you will never have complete authenticity. However, within each culture there often many different ways to prepare the same dish.Whose to say what is truly authentic?
    In both my professional and personal cooking life I try to choose recipes that are seasonal and use locally grown produce and food items. Great post, very thought provoking.

  • Dawn said...

    I am a sushi fanatic. But I have yet to try the smoked trout. And now seeing it in color I really want to try it. Wonderful read too; I loved the McD's burgers in India, hmm

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Forager - Glocavorism definitely has its place but sometimes, I do crave just the exact ingredients. With that said, I suppose I should first learn how to make 'authentic' dishes before I demand authentic ingredients! 8-D

    Lori - You've brought up a great point! The distance some foods travel is indeed worrisome but we should consider their nutritional benefits balanced with the energy req'd to get them from origins to destinations. Living in MN, where winter is long and nothing grows outdoors, having access to fresh fruits and vegetables (although they're grown in SA) is so valuable.

    I, too, would love to travel more - to experience the flavors of a cuisine in its context. I think it gives us a much more broad perspective of what food means to people beyond just flavors and textures. Thank so much for your thoughtful comments!

    Jackie - I found the oshibako at a local cooking store called The Kitchen Window. I was fortunate that they have a wide selection of cooking tools from around the world. The local Asian markets didn't have anything like this!

    Duo Dishes - It's definitely a great tool - so easy to clean and store. I'm trying to think of new toppings to try out!

    Sarah - You bring up an excellent point about authenticity: if food is imbued with meanings that are intangible and important to native diners, will it ever be truly authentic to someone who does not have the same cultural background and therefore do not find the same meaning?

    It really seems as if we must truly choose what suits us all best - what fits with our personal philosophies, cultural meanings and ideologies. But I sometimes feel that I'm being judged for my food choices despite best attempts to balance my need for cultural identity and my social responsibilities . . .

    Dawn - Thank you! I LOVE sushi and am fortunate that we've found a great place here in Minneapolis. However, these smoked options let us enjoy it at home. The smoked trout was a perfect combo with the flavor of sushi rice! Can't wait to make some more!!

    As for the McD burgers in India, I would love to do a world tour, trying out these localized McD's products! 8-D

 

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