Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

~ Chinese Proverb ~

Chicken Parmy Please

October 4th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 14 secs

Here's to the wonders of food!

Here’s to the wonders of food!

You could call it fusion food, though it’s hardly highbrow.  While epicurean snobs push their noses up enough to risk hooking their nostrils on low-slung chandeliers, food will always be far more than status on a plate.

Take ethnic cuisine (though cuisine sounds a tad too fancy). You might order an Australian meat pie in New York and think you’re getting the real deal. Chances are it’ll be a pie alright, but not as any Aussie would know it.

Likewise, try Australian Chinese and most Aussies will be none the wiser. But go to China and you immediately find it’s nothing like it. Why? Because the exported variety is kind of Chinese and still quite Australian.

Mind you, this formula works a treat wherever you go as locals like their own food the most. So the more different the dish, the more likely it’ll get doctored up to fit local tastes.

That’s why coffee in Japan might be a many splendid thing. But coffee tasters elsewhere would all nod their head and declare, “Yes it’s coffee, though not as we know it.”

This sort of thing happens across the board in Australia, where the southern Italian dish, Parmigiana, has become corrupted into a popular Aussie pub special called a “chicken parmegana”, or more commonly, “a parmy” (hence pubs offering $10 specials on a “parmy and pot” – the latter being a glass of beer).  Having become a local favorite, parmies always served with chips (thick French fries which, of course aren’t of French origin but Belgian).

As you can see, these mongrel mixtures keep popping up everywhere. This means you can expect that if your favorite dish ever reaches some other nation, it will probably be corrupted into something old, something new, something borrowed, and probably blue.

American coffee snobs might wax lyrical about their favorite added flavors, for example. But these flavors barely exist anywhere else.

Some feel that’s just as well too. For the foodstuff called Vegemite (well, it is kind of like a food) is regarded as both Australian and unique. Yet this salty dark brown yeast extract spread isn’t particularly different from the other salty brown British stuff called Marmite.

In truth, there are lots of foods widely prized in many different parts of the world that have strikingly similar equivalents. Indian samosas, for instance, seem to be strikingly similar to tasty treats in the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, Portugal, and China. Not surprisingly, everyone says these delectable little morsels are theirs, while all the rest are forgeries.

So, what does all of this mean? For “starters” fiddling with recipes is actually a good thing. Why not try foods from other countries and adapt them to local tastes? If it brings pleasure to people’s palates, surely that’s a welcome measure (as I’m sure many Brits plowing into some curry and chips would agree).

Whatever you eat, the key is that it be enjoyable, have some nutritional value, and be something you can share. Fusion foods might not always hit the mark, but they are fun, a little bit crazy, and remain forever intriguing. Bon appetit! 

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