My favorite thing about French cuisine is its ability to pair with any other cuisine, to become an important part of it and, in turn, to make the other cuisine an important part of French cuisine, too. Why can’t relationships between people be that easy?
Or, maybe people fusion is that simple? If French cuisine were a person, I suppose it would have acquired many lovers that it never could say goodbye to, almost like a person that would prefer a relationship with two or more people at the same time, than one or none.
The following list spotlights Cajun, Mexican-French, and Senegalese eateries that produce beautiful, delicious and, in some cases, downright genius results of culinary multi-cultural relationships. Tchoup Shop’s shrimp and grits, Jolie Cantina’s duck confit quesadilla, and Cafe Rue Dix’s Yassa Guinar are tasty proof that polyamorous cooking is all love.
Darling NOLA Feasts: Cajun and Creole Cuisine
The Big Easy is a top-five spot on my travel bucket list. Its native cooking styles are two good reasons. Cajun and Creole are, in my opinion, vintage varieties of French-fusion cuisine due to their mixed cultural origins, heavy French influences and unique inclusions of the French palette.
Until I win my beads on Bourbon Street, or taste the original French-fusion cooking in the French Quarter, I’ll make do with exciting eats at Tchoup Shop (Tchoup is pronounced chop) and Lowerline while I dream of hurricanes, beignets and meeting the cast of “Southern Charm: New Orleans.”
Fiesta y Fête: Mexican-French Cuisine
Jolie Cantina, 241 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, (718) 488-0777, https://www.joliecantina.com
If the Santos Anne’s dinner menu doesn’t sufficiently rep its fusion theme, check out its cocktail list. Smokey, refreshing, floral and spicy, the drinks at Santos Anne are unapologetically multiculti, if not crave-worthy. I’d start with a Fleur Spritz, a floral accompaniment perfect for a light appetizer. A Gentleman’s Sidekick, a strong and sweet drink similar to a boulevardier, would be a delightful end of the night treat.
Santos Anne, 366 Union Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211, (718) 486-6979, http://www.santosannebk.com
Of Our Canoe: Senegalese Cuisine
I’m a little jealous that Brooklyn has a much smaller Senegalese population than Harlem. It’s evident in the scarce number of West African restaurants that are thriving in Brooklyn, compared to that, which is at least twice as much, that are thriving Uptown. Nonetheless I’m happy that we do have a bit of Senegalese culture in the warm and sensual Cafe Rue Dix and colorful Bed-Stuy favorite Joloff, among other smaller spots.
When I brought my son to Crown Heights Cafe Rue Dix for an impromptu date night, he of course did all the things a five-year-old boy would do in his unique position of power: woofed down his grilled salmon entree, served with unbelievable black olive mashed potatoes and Shirley Temple with extra cherries; danced to the very energizing Electronica drum music; successfully pulled me away from my Yassa Guinar—lemony chicken and onion confit over couscous or rice—to dance with him; and wooed the beautiful 20-somethings who were dining at a nearby table. When I return to the lovely Cafe Rue Dix, I want to sample the duck confit and the grilled lamb chops (and a side of the phenomenal black olive mashed potatoes!), sans my little Romeo. I’ll miss him but I can drink as many El diablos as I want—probably not more than two because thankfully, they’re strong.
Cafe Rue Dix, 1451 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11216, https://www.caferuedix.com
Joloff Restaurant, 1168 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11216, Joloff’s Yelp page
Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash