Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Calling all home food fusionistas, aka 'cultural mash-up eaters'

Sriracha pizza, March 2006
Sriracha pizza, March 2006
Photo by ezola/Flickr (Creative Commons)

While retweeting a Multi-American post about Japanese tuna melt donuts today, the consistently engaging @HyphenMagazine introduced me to a great recent piece on the different types of "cultural mash-up eaters" that exist out there.

In the Asian American diaspora that Hyphen reports on, these are the folks who might dip chicken nuggets in Filipino-style adobo, season spaghetti with Sriracha sauce or, when biting into a McDonald's cheeseburger, wonder if it might not be better with a little lettuce and soy sauce.

Among them are Survival Gourmets ("A go-to meal is ramen with lunchmeat"), Compulsive Non-Wasters (who learned from immigrant parents to save everything, meaning that things like leftover burrito contents + leftover brussels sprouts = efficient wok meal), and the most extreme of home fusionistas, Sacrilege Chefs, who shock and awe with their concoctions.

Of course, mash-up eating applies fairly universally in places and homes where worlds and cultures collide. A Survival Gourmet at heart, I grew up with leftover picadillo stirred into Hamburger Helper and other necessity-fusion delights. Today, like those who "believe Sriracha goes good on anything, seriously anything," I will sprinkle deviled eggs with chile powder instead of paprika and add chopped jalapeños or Tapatio sauce to tuna salad because it needs, well, a kick. Black pepper doesn't cut it.

Hyphen collected a few reader's personal mash-up favorites on the magazine's Facebook page, among them kimchi on hot dogs as an alternate to sauerkraut (also fantastic on burgers). A reader on the magazine's website reported enjoying dumplings with spaghetti sauce.

The possibilities are endless. Have a cultural mash-up dish you grew up with or make at home? Please share.