Fusion is a dirty word, evoking the nightmare of some recent culinary-school graduate with Larousse Gastronomique in one hand and a tube of wasabi paste in the other. Not that you can't combine the flavors of disparate cultures. But you shouldn't have to point out that the combination is a fusion. The dish should work on its own terms. Most fusion fare reminds me of what the novelist and critic John Gardner once said about "experimental" writing: "Only if the experiment fails do we call the work experimental."Check back tomorrow to see what I think.
But another kind of fusion cuisine has been developing in recent years, an odd hybrid of ethnic restaurant, street-food stall and American fast-food joint. It likely won't shock you to learn that St. Louis isn't on the cutting edge of this trend -- I've been reading about the slick, hip ramen shops in Los Angeles for years now -- but we aren't missing out entirely.