Melting Pan

By Andrej Mrevlje |

A year ago, Roi Choi created the Korean-Mexican-Kogi taco and became a celebrity in the United States. With his hybrid food, he wants to become a cross-cultural phenomenon, aspiring to melt a wide variety of cultures in a pan, offering a fusion of taste from across the globe. Will his melting pan be more successful than the melting pot, which never became more than a metaphor for the country with the highest number of ethnic groups?

Kogi tacos were conceived as a fast food product sold from trucks. After his initial success, Choi raised money and started a mini revolution — asking fancy restaurants and hotels to offer his cheap food, to render them accessible to people without deep pockets.

Choi belongs to the generation of youngish chefs in California who listen to hip-hop. He is not the only Asian chef in this group, and young men like him are part of the Great Asian music movement that exploded on YouTube.

In the United States, food is becoming an important social issue. Growing obesity and numerous diseases among the population related to bad nutrition are substantially increasing the already very high cost of public health care. The increased social problems related to and the awareness of malnutrition created fertile conditions for the growth of food movements spreading from west to east. Based on scientific discoveries and supported by the ideas and theories of many writers and activists, these movements already represent a strong force for change. The movement’s spiritual fathers include men such as Michael Pollan, who has written to President Obama and authored books about healthy eating.

On the opposite side of the food movements are lobbies and big corporations. As much as it might sound bizarre to Europeans, this wooing of public officials seems  normal to Americans: among nearly 12 thousand lobbyists in Washington, there are even those who represent the special interests of Pizza Hut and other pizza bakers! But even more bizarre and incomprehensible by any natural law, sliced pizza seems to be under the protection of the people with special interests, mostly Republicans, who represent the vast majority of the people who are devouring this junk food.

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