Oh, Starbucks. You follow me everywhere I go.
I’m usually not one to frequent a global chain while visiting a foreign country, but I tripped down the stairs this morning and hurt my foot (nothing serious), so the Starbucks just around the corner suddenly became a very attractive option for lunch. As I scanned the refrigerated section of pre-packaged foods and beverages, I spotted the 불고기 브리또 (bulgogi burrito).
Bulgogi is thin, marinated beef that’s usually cooked on a grill or frying pan. The marinade typically consists of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, pepper, and garlic (thanks Wikipedia!). I love bulgogi, burritos, and all things fusion, so this looked like the right choice for me. I quickly browsed the rest of the display anyway though, just to make sure I wasn’t missing any other special offerings.
An employee heated the burrito up for me once I was able to communicate that I was purchasing the burrito “for here” rather than “to go”, and I think that made a big difference in how good it was. The tortilla was filled with rice, some sort of cheese, bulgogi, and some veggies, and the flavorful combination was delicious.
I was also pretty hungry, and you know what they say…hunger is the best spice! Nevertheless, this burrito was really good, and I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it any time of day.
I’ve been noticing this fusion-embracing approach in other global establishments, as well. Since day one in the airport, I’ve seen countless Dunkin Donuts. Today, my cousin told me they serve boba, or bubble tea, in addition to their normal fare. Okay, so it’s not exactly fusion in the food sense, but it is at the very least an acknowledgement of the cultural fusion that occurs when you introduce a multi-national chain to a new country and people.
Another example that comes to mind is McDonald’s. I actually haven’t seen any yet, but I remember going to one during a prior visit to Seoul. They serve bulgogi burgers. Here’s an interesting article that lists some of the other regional specialties in McDonald’s menus across Asia. Happy eating!