Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kimchi Taco

Have boundary transgressions reached a new level of playfulness? Have we finally shattered any notion of binary identity? 

Scene 1:

On Valentine's Day I saw the Kinsey Sicks, "America's Favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet" perform their election year political satire: Electile Disfunction. The group is led by Winnie (Irwin Keller), a lipstick lesbian with motherly instincts, and includes Rachel (Ben Schatz), a strong woman with serious boundary issues, Trixie (Jeff Manabat), sort of an Asian Joan Collins, and Trampolina (Spencer Brown) who is sweet but rather dim. The show pokes some serious fun at the GOP, weaving political commentary into its gender bending numbers. Afterwards, make-up free and in blue jeans, the cast came on stage for a talk-back. "We always do this in our guy drag" said Keller. A sotto comment leaving the audience to wonder: if these are not simply boys dressing as girls, but boys dressing as girls dressing as boys, are they always acting out roles? Are we?

As with gender, so with food.  Some of the most adventurous fusion food cross-dressings are happening in the mobile kitchens of food trucks.

Scene 2:

Later the same week, I went to try out the Kimchi Taco food truck, which launched in DC in November. Based in New York, but now literally rolling out in other cities, Kimchi Taco serves Korean-Mexican fusion food. For example, you can get your choice of Korean barbecue (short ribs, spicy pork or chicken) in a corn tortilla, or kimchi-infused refried beans over crispy wontons. But look closely, and you will see that there is more going on than just Korean food acknowledging its inner Mexican. You can get carb-free versions of any of the tacos, where large pink fronds of sweet-and-sour radish -- a riff on Korean banchan -- are fashioned into taco shells. So: no sooner had the Korean chef handed the part of the taco off to the Mexicans, he immediately took it back into the Korean repertoire. This dish is no longer simply Korean dressing as Mexican; it is Korean dressing as Mexican dressing as Korean.

Take a look at these pink, frilly radish ribbons. Is it not Korean drag?

Kimchi Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

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