I really enjoy when people start talking about fusion foods and dishes as I feel quite at home on this subject. It has always been one of my passions. As a Trinidadian, it comes naturally as a direct result of centuries of our collective history, geography, culture and more recently due to globalisation.
In relatively small islands in the Caribbean, Trinidadian cuisine has been allowed to fuse for centuries by its rich history, multiculturalism and the diversity of its people. The islands’ heritage were made up of Amerindians, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese, South Americans, Syrians and Lebanese – the fusion of cultures and different ethnicities have influenced its cuisine as well as other elements like its music. Trinidadian food writer, Wendy Rahamut, wrote in her cookbook ‘Caribbean Flavors’ that “each of these cultures has left its own unique mark on the food of the region evolving in their own way to produce a new type of fusion cuisine that is mouth-watering, spicy and delicious.”
“Each of these cultures has left its own unique mark on the food of the region evolving in their own way to produce a new type of fusion cuisine that is mouth-watering, spicy and delicious.”
-Wendy Rahamut wrote in her cookbook ‘Caribbean Flavors’
Over 27 years ago in 1989, Alan Davidson described Trinidadian food in an article ‘Cooking up a Rainbow’ for The Sunday Times as “Food in Trinidad is an attractive hodgepodge and it does reflect the ethnic mix.” Right up to date to the present, this is also very much happening in Trinidad with new generations tapping into the richness and uniqueness of the islands as mentioned in this article ‘The Trinidadian Eating Experience’.
As a differentiation between world cuisine and fusion food – world food is when the dishes remain pure to its identity but are consumed by other groups. On the other hand, fusion food is when the ingredients, culinary techniques, skills and most of all…tasteful flavours have been merged and/or used to enhance a particular dish. I am not a food industry expert to define it as such, but it certainly seems to me that is the result with fusion food.
I grew up in an East Indian home but long before then, there were other cultural ingredients in our makeup that was accessible which meant that we adopted and adapted different styles and influences over 200 years. A typical Sunday lunch in Trinidad can be rice, callaloo (spinach dish with an assortment of vegetables, crabs and coconut milk), stew meat, roti (flatbread originating from Asia), and macaroni pie with fresh salad – there are continents of the world connected just on that one special plate! Not only is this fusion food – it is soul food!
There are continents of the world connected just on that one special plate! Not only is this fusion food – it is soul food! …on Trinidadian Food.
My love of food got more interesting when I moved to North London as a student. My family and friends exposed me to all types of restaurants and cuisine ranging from Greek-Cypriot, Turkish, Italian, Nigerian, Asian, Bengali and some traditional English dishes. It seems that fusion food has evolved in my time here too, with mixing and experimentation occurring to this day. Everyone can observe (and even better, taste!) that London is a fully cosmopolitan capital and so the city is lucky to offer these flavours to accent some of the best diversity of world cuisine.