Fusion: Can It Be a True Depiction of Authenticity?

In “Learning About Los Angeles: a Taco Truck and its City” by Oliver Wang, Wang talks about the introduction of taco trucks and how that evolved into the fusion of different food cultures in the county of Los Angeles. As expected, taco trucks were a huge hit not only because they were cheap, but also because they were a quick mobile food break for anyone who was busy with work or school. As Los Angeles became more multicultural, people began fusing different cultural foods together which is how Kogi came to be. Kogi, an idea created by Asian Americans, is a food truck that fuses Korean and Mexican food together. Kogi was commended for being a fusion of the two cultures that were believed to be two of the most represented cultures in Los Angeles. Not only did Kogi’s food represent both cultures, it made the customers think of the city just by eating it as stated by Jonathan Gold, one of Los Angeles Times food critic.

According to Manalansan, food is a pathway that allows people to experience something called diasporic return. Diasporic return through food simply means that people are able to return home through their senses without actually having to go back to their native country. Food allows people to experience something sensory and emotional not only from their homeland but also of their past. By creating Kogi, the people of Los Angeles are able to experience both Mexican and Korean culture while enjoying the food pleasures Los Angeles provide. Now, if any of the customers were to ever experience a fusion of food like this in another place, they would not only be reminded of the Mexican and Korean culture, but the Los Angeles culture.

This past spring break, I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite food spots, a Chinese Japanese restaurant called Yoyogi. This restaurant is quite popular among residents of all ages in the area because not only is their food cheap, but it is also delicious. Their sushi rolls are the most well known but customers also get the chicken or beef teriyaki dish with rice. Once you walk in, you notice that the design of the restaurant has an Asian touch, with bamboo plants and screens that cover the walkway to the restrooms. The utensils offered at each table are a pair of chopsticks, and forks and spoons are only provided if you ask the waiter/waitress. Quite the Asian touch, right? The restaurant’s food is also prepared and served by Chinese staff which allows customers to see the fusion of Chinese and Japanese cultures in the food and design of the restaurant.

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Each time I am able to go to Yoyogi, it is an opportunity enjoy both the food and the company that I go with. This restaurant not only represents the fusion of both Chinese and Japanese culture, but it also holds a special place in my heart. This was a frequently visited place in high school and summers throughout college and as a result, each time I come to Yoyogi, I am able to have an experience of Japanese culture, a diasporic return to Chinese culture, and a nostalgic flashback to memories of high school and summers with friends.

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People may question the authenticity of fused cultural food, but fused cultural food can bring one the best of both worlds by providing gustatory experiences of multiple cultures. As Manalansan stated, authenticity is a concept that is created from the shifting standards that come from the different cultural and class backgrounds of individuals. Thus, as food changes along with the fusion dishes that are created, the idea of food authenticity will also change. As the world also evolves, so do cultures, food and people along with it. In the end, the authenticity of a food will not be questioned because it will not just represent one culture, but a fusion of the multiple cultures throughout the world.

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