"Fusion" food came into vogue decades ago and has informed the food we eat in ways we don't even realize. We have delicious things like banh mi and peach salsa thanks to fusion, but also borderline insulting innovations such as taco pizza. At what point do things go from "That sounds tasty, why not?" to the bastardization of culinary tradition? What exactly, is an "Asian Bistro," and what could possibly persuade me to step foot into one?
Twenty years ago, you enjoyed a cone of frozen yogurt at a Shoney's buffet after a meal better not remembered, or a swirl of frozen custard at the stand off the highway. Now you can't walk a block in New York City, or drive five miles in Houston, without going past a boutique green-tea frozen yogurt -- I mean "fro-yo" -- establishment charging $6 per cup. For that kind of markup, the acai berry had really better be working its magic.
Trans-fat is the food world's swine flu. Just as, when we see someone sneeze before high-fiving a coworker and our eyes widen with fear, we panic when a friend reaches for a box of Cheese Nips, blurting "Trans-fat can kill you!" Preying on our anxiety, manufacturers slapped the "Now with 50 percent less trans-fat!" logo on all their snack boxes, and as a result, we all eat more saturated fat. In some cities, trans-fat is illegal. Not smoking or drinking or anything, but trans-fat.
In general, fad diets are disastrous, but thankfully, only the business of dieters. The Master Cleanse is disgusting, but that's really Beyoncé's problem and not mine. The Atkins diet, however, inspired an entire industry -- low-carb food -- that was more or less inescapable if you watched television or went to the grocery store. For what seemed like an eternity, we had to watch the hosts of morning shows fry sausage as if it was healthy and buy our honey wheat sitting next to low-carb bread. And the science of taking the carbohydrates out of carbohydrates raised some mind-boggling ontological questions: What is bread if the bread is missing?
Here is a food crippled by its own hype. No meat has ever received so much adoration: bacon air fresheners, bacon basket-weave, "I'm with bacon" T-shirts. It's as if we stalk bacon, begging it to notice us. I used to love bacon, now I loathe it almost as much as I hate mustaches and Lady Gaga.