Fusion style food in Korea - 44
Fusion Jazz and Fusion Italian food
Before getting onto the subject of Kimchi, which I am sure most Koreans have looked for in the index of this book, before considering if this book was worth buying (mental note – do not forget under any circumstances to discuss the Kimchi phenomena), I would like to mention fusion food. I was aware that the word fusion means mixed, for example like fusion jazz, which is a mix of different types of jazz music. Despite having travelled a lot before visiting Korea though, the expression ‘Fusion food’, was an expression I saw for the first time and many times, whilst walking the streets of Seoul.
It is an interesting idea and, on seeing a restaurant advertising ‘Fusion Italian food’, and on seeing my Italian girlfriend’s face on looking at the menu, I was bemused by the idea. The sense of bemusement was the combination of Korean food and Italian food, which are vastly different.
What is Fusion Food in Korea?
The word expression ‘Fusion Food’ is used everywhere, especially in the trendiest areas of Seoul. It left me very curious as to how food could be fused: Would it be different elements of Korean food mixed or food from different countries? If it mixes food from different countries, could this really work. What countries foods could be mixed and how could it be mixed well. Even finding good Korean food outside of Korea can be difficult so finding good Korean food outside of Korea, which is also mixed with the food of another country, then seems even more impossible. If you mix a country’s food with another country’s food does the food really represent any country at all? Maybe it will become popular in the future? I am not sure though.
Italian food in Seoul, South Korea
Whilst on the subject of finding Korean food abroad, since returning to England, I have spent some time living in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, and there is one Korean restaurant I have found in this city. The restaurant, which is run predominantly by Chinese staff, knew nothing about Beck-Se-Ju or Dak-Kalbi, when I entered the restaurant to ask about their menu. It is never easy to get good food froma given country when not in that country. Similar problems existed in Korea when trying to get good Italian food. With a wife who is from Sicily, Italy, we sought out many Italian restaurants in Seoul and many offered Italian fusion food and it amounted to a Korean version of Italian food, which often did Italian food little justice. The type of oil used was wrong or the amounts of sauce used for example, were changed, hence distracting from the correct taste. In Korea, unlike in other countries, the owner of the restaurants must be Korean Nationals (or, in rare cases, foreigners who have a Korean business partner).
Therefore, only one Italian restaurant in Seoul actually has an Italian manager (at the time of writing), whilst the other Italian restaurants have Korean managers and Korean cooks (a few of whom who did study Italian cuisine in Italy). That is the reason why it is so difficult to find proper Italian restaurants in Seoul, hence the food is often a Koreanised version of Italian cuisine, adapted to Korean taste.