Making Sense of Fusion Bibimbaps within Auckland Eateries
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Fusion food is a popular global culinary trend. Yet, it is an under-researched domain within the study of gastronomy. In everyday use, the term ‘fusion food’ generally refers to a combination or a fusion of different culinary cultures into one dish. However, there is a lack of academic exploration of how these combinations are realised practically. Consequently, this research aims to fill that knowledge gap by investigating the Korean dish, bibimbap, and its fusion derivatives within my local Auckland “culinascape” (Morris, 2010, p. 6). To achieve that research goal, this research is guided by qualitative description and thematic analysis in the interviews of four expert participants. These participants were four highly esteemed Korean migrant chefs from four different Korean fusion eateries in Auckland, who offered extensive knowledge and understanding of bibimbap and fusion bibimbap to this research. This research illuminates multiple layers of knowledge about fusion bibimbap. In revealing fusion bibimbap’s construction process, a broader appreciation for the socio-temporality and the cultural context of food is provided. Moreover, in building on the actant materiality of bibimbap, fusion bibimbap is positioned as a symbolic representation of a glocalised Korean identity within the Kiwi milieu. Most importantly, and building on Morris (2010), I suggest that the fusion bibimbap represents Korean migrant empowerment expressed within the Auckland “culinascape” (p. 6). In these ways, this research provides a deeper and richer insight into the practical conceptualisations of fusion bibimbap. Within that research finding, the fusion bibimbap reflects the on-going negotiation of Kiwi-ness and Korean-ness realised within the emergent Kiwi-Korean identity.