Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back to the Regional Thing

In the May issue of Food & Wine, F&W travel editor Salma Abdelnour writes the article I would have written, if only I had a gigantic travel budget.

I went on a mini-tirade about the rise of a class of fancyish cuisine overpowering regional cuisine of a certain level. Street food will probably always reflect its birthplace, but five-star (even three-star) restaurants have increasingly adopted an uber-fusion approach.

Since I wrote those posts last summer, I've noticed the phenomenon over and over again. Even as I watch Paula Deen's sons, Anthony Bourdain, and about a zillion other travely chefs set out to find the foods that quintessentially define everyplace from Birmingham, Alabama to Mumbai, right here in my own backyard, classic Maryland food (straight up crab cakes, oysters, rockfish) is increasingly schmancied up to meet some sort of vague international standard.

And this is exactly the topic Abdelnour tackles. Her job has taken her all over the world, from home kitchens in Morocco to five-stars in Paris. She's got a solid basis for her argument, which she labels "The Insidious Rise of Cosmo-Cuisine".

Which both pleases and disappoints me at the same time. Because while I'm thrilled to see my exact thoughts validated in my favorite magazine ten months after my initial post, I can't be anything but slightly dismayed that this epidemic really is occuring on a global scale.

But, I guess, at least we'll always have the cheap local stuff. At least, that is, until street vendors start cranking out emulsions and reductions.

And when that day comes, well, God help us all. Especially the line cooks.

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