Cooking, as many of you know, is all about the marriage of ingredients, the mixing of flavors and textures to create something harmonious that sings to your palate. Often the components that create a tasty finished product are unexpected, and pushing the boundaries of traditional flavor combinations has been a huge trend in the culinary world in recent years. I would say that this mirrors the general global trend of culture-crossing, media-mixing, and a readiness to challenge established definitions of art, food and writing. It seems that for many people, as the world gets smaller, our minds expand and tastes broaden. This is a welcome change. Narrower views about what was correct or acceptable in the kitchen, the art, dance and music studios have been replaced by a wide angle lens that looks for inspiration in all aspects of life.
To give one modern example in the world of music (my husband argues the application of the term ‘music’ here but we’ll just leave that aside), as Eminem says: there actually are quite a number of words that can rhyme with ‘orange’ if you just play with pronunciation a little bit.
This sweet potato recipe may or may not be a ‘modern’ example of fusion cooking (for all I know, it could be a riff on a traditional Native American or Mexican dish), but it does demonstrate how opposite flavors can complement each other and bring interest and excitement to a comfort food standby.
Whipped Chipotle Sweet Potatoes, from The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl, 2004
5 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo, mashed to a paste (1 1/2 to 2 chiles)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or vegan margarine), cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
1 teaspoon salt
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and butter a 2-quart shallow glass or ceramic baking dish.
Prick each potato several times with a fork, then bake on baking sheet until very soft, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
When cool enough to handle, halve potatoes and scoop flesh into a bowl. Beat potatoes, chile paste (to taste), butter, and salt with an electric mixer at medium speed just until smooth, then spread in baking dish.
Bake whipped potatoes until hot, 20 to 25 minutes.