Standing amid the excavated layers of ancient civilizations in the Templo Mayor, right in the heart of modern Mexico City, Rick Bayless points out that Mexican cooking has always been a product of diverse cultural influences layered one on top of another. It might even be called the original fusion cuisine.
And at the cloister of Sor Juana, now a university with a cooking school in Mexico City, Rick points out that of all the dishes in the Mexican repertoire, mole is doubtless the ultimate example of fusion food, born of a baroque melding of influences from nuns and native women who mixed old and new world ingredients to create a sauce of dazzling complexity.
In his home kitchen, Rick prepares a less baroque version, Apricot-Pinenut Mole, served with turkey breast.
Then it’s back to Mexico for a look at where fusion fever has taken the cuisine today, with Asian influences ranging from sushi in the Guadalajara market to Café Bistro MP in Mexico City, where the in-crowd feast on Asian-fusion small plates that reinvent classic Mexican antojitos, with ingredients like wonton wrappers and soy sauce.
Back at home, he reinvents one of these fanciful dishes, Seared Duck with Asian Flavors for Making Soft Tacos, a cross between a classic taco filling and Peking Duck.
And finally, Rick takes us way off the fusion radar screen to a tiny stand in the village of Pitillal, where two culinary traditions, burritos (which, we discover, are a North American invention) and grilled shrimp, come together to create a fabulous fusion snack, known only to locals.
Who says fusion has to be highfalutin'?