What a silly title. Sorry about that.
But I am heading up to Napa today for the CIA's annual "Worlds of Flavor" conference. Here's their description:
Each year, the Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival transforms the Napa Valley campus into an amazing crossroads of world food and culture. More than 50 leading chefs, cooks, cookbook authors, and other culinary experts from Latin America, the Mediterranean, and Asia as well as from across the United States will head up the prestigious guest faculty at this CIA anniversary event.
Over the last 15 years, American menus–and the chefs and operators who create them–have undergone a profound, even revolutionary transformation. For most of our culinary history, we have been largely tethered to Northern European traditions–with France often representing the gold standard in fine dining–while a host of “ethnic flavors” beckoned our palates from the fringes of the industry. In the late 80s and early 90s, however, what we now call “world cuisine” started to catch the imagination of American consumers and the dining public.
First it was broader interest in regional Italian flavors, then a collective grasp of the larger Mediterranean, then regional Mexican and other Latin flavors. Next, fascination with an expanded range of Asian flavors emerged, from China and Japan to Southeast Asia and India–and finally we have now come to a “tipping point” that represents a remaking of the American culinary landscape. Once we thought it was sensible to rank the world's cuisines, but today we see a more level playing field with many cultures contributing brilliant ideas to the world table. Whereas before we thought of “American cuisine” and “American food” asbeing separate from other cuisines of the world (the latter often referred to as “ethnic foods” or “international foods”), we now increasingly think of American food as world food.
Doesn't that sound fun? These are the moments when I think, This is my job? How in the world did I finagle that?
I'm also happy to see that, with the term "world food," the good folks at the CIA have come up with an alternative to "ethnic," which is such a ridiculous bit of imperialist residue. As if some group (Brits? The French?) are the standard-bearers of humanity. No, French food is ethnic food, too. Anyway, I'm preaching to the choir.
I'll try to post any interesting news from the conference.