Choose Authentic: The Case Against the “Fusion Food” Scam

These days, fusion food is all the rage. If you’re a so called “foodie” and are into your local food scene, you’ll know that fusion is often talked up as some ‘bold’ experiment from an ‘innovative’ chef looking to mix the best of both worlds. Do you love Korean food? How about Mexican food? Well, hang on to your dinner plates everyone because this Kor-Mex fusion will BLOW YOUR MIND. At least, that’s what they’d like you to think. The reality is very different. Is this even sushi anymore?

Fusion Food
“Miya’s Sushi: …an Americana sushi roll” by Mickeycomix is licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0

Before I continue on why I despise fusion food, we need to define what makes food “authentic.” “Authentic” food is synonymous with “traditional” food, or foods and dishes developed by certain countries, regions and/or ethnicities over many generations. In layman terms, it’s what your grandma would make. Despite claims to the contrary, authentic food is actually quite rare outside of their home countries or a foreign diaspora (think Mexican food in LA). The reason is very simple, different people like different flavors and while one or two may enjoy authentic Thai food for example, most non-Thai people will not be willing to make it a part of their regular food rotation on a consistent basis. It is just not a profitable business. I’ve seen this over and over in Korea with authentic Mexican restaurants (RIP Taco K) that go under because they just don’t hit the right audience, despite doing everything right.

Here are some authentic Central Mexican chilaquiles.

So what’s my problem with fusion food? Well, for starters, it is false advertisement. It is not bold nor innovative as its goal isn’t to be different. It’s main goal is to NOT offend. Fusion food takes the least imaginative and most recognizable foods of both cuisines and tries to smash them together regardless of whether they even go well together. Kor-Mex isn’t going to mix authentic Kamjatang soup with chamorro de res meat (man that sounds good). Nope, tacos and bulgogi is what you get. Thai-Kor isn’t going to be some green curry with, say, seollangtang meat. Nope, you’re getting pad thai and probably kimchi. Nay, definitely kimchi.

Korean Food - Kimchi Dumplings
Kimchi is awesome in dumplings, but keep it away from my tacos.

I know what you’re thinking, “Fusion food sucks and authentic food is bad for business, thanks for bumming me out Travel World Heritage!” Wait, don’t leave yet! I had a point, I swear. For these reasons, I wanted to encourage everyone that when you travel, choose authentic. I guess if that was my point, I should have put it in the title huh? In any case, when you go on a trip, make it a goal to “eat where the locals eat” in a matter of speaking. In the past, this was easier said than done because the moment you put a restaurant on the map through a publication like the Lonely Planet, it goes to crap. So how exactly do you find authentic food?

Guide Books – Where authentic food goes to die.

One trick I’ve tried is to scour the internet for local blogs. This blog, for example, I would hope is your go to for Korean travel. I mean, I have been here almost a decade after all. However, since food is what we are talking about, look no further than Zenkimchi’s Food blog. Another trick is to make local friends while you’re visiting and ask them to take you where THEY would eat. This can be a bit hard, but rewarding.  One less difficult option is a food tour. A Rome food tour for example could show you Rome’s food scene beyond the pizza on the corner you totally found while wandering around. Whatever your method may be, just remember one thing. Say “no” to fusion and say “yes please” to authentic food.


Bonus: Here are some authentic foods to look for in Korea!

Less Touristy Things to do OUTSIDE of Seoul

Less Touristy Things to do OUTSIDE of Seoul

If you read the last post about Less Touristy Things to do in Seoul, you get the drill. I am not saying that these alternatives are BETTER than their more touristy cousins in Korea, but I can definitely assure you that you will be one of the few foreigners experiencing these places. The last post included places within Seoul or within a short day trip, so this one will exclusively be limited to places outside of Seoul.

Historical City -> Skip Gyeongju, go to Kongju and Buyeo

The first unification of Korea was arguably accomplished by Read more

Less Touristy Things to do in Seoul

Less Touristy Things to do in Seoul

Finding an off the beaten spot makes any trip feel a tad bit more personal. Even if you’ve visiting a place with millions of tourists, your trip suddenly becomes unique when you don’t just do what everyone else does. Every year (with the exception of 2018), I’ve revised and republished what I honestly believe is the best countdown to the coolest things to do in Seoul and in Korea as a whole. However, I am still often asked to recommend “less touristy things” and well, the time has come. The style of this list will be similar to the “Eat this, not that” diet books which I never read, but thought were was a cool concept. Here are some touristy things to do in Seoul and their far less touristy alternatives.

 

Seoul Palaces -> Skip Gyeongbokgung, go to Gyeonghuigung

If you’re looking for a palace in Seoul to roam around all by yourself, there are a grand total of five. However, Gyeongbok, Changdeok, Changgyeong, and Deoksu all Read more

The Ultimate List of the Best Places to Kayak Around the World

The Ultimate List of the Best Places to Kayak Around the World

The following is a guest post from Adam Eyal, a fellow blogger over at Fringe Pursuits. This blog is a wonderful resource for people who like to combine travel with recreational sports. This article is his expert advice where he will tell you where to kayak around the world like a pro. For long term followers of this blog, you’d know that I rarely allow guest posts, so rest assured, this is a really good one :). Take it away Adam!


 

At the start of this new year, while you’re busy making new resolutions for the year ahead, why not make your list of top kayak locations that you have to visit before you die?

Kayaks can get into tighter, more secluded spots than cruise ships and tour boats, so this is the perfect opportunity to get off the beaten track. You’ll be able to see things that most tourists can only dream of as kayaking around the world will get you up close and personal with nature.

We’ve travelled the globe, so if you’re looking for inspiration on where to go for your next kayak vacation, look no further…

 

The Amazon


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Korea Itinerary for 1, 3, 7 and 14 day trips

Korea Itinerary for 1, 3, 7 and 14 day trips

You’re too lazy or confused to make your own damn itinerary? No problemo, I’ve got you covered. The reason I’ve never done a post like this is because, well, I don’t know you and have no idea what you would like or dislike, but I’ll just assume you’re a mini-me and would like what I like. Let’s get started.
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