Global Influence - How The Digital Revolution Is Impacting What We Eat
by Erin Peterson
Featured in Spokane Coeur d' Alene Living Magazine
Spokane isn’t just steak and potatoes anymore.
The digital revolution has done more than create the possibility for instant communication, it has given us the gift of instant culture transfer. From a simple Google search, we can find recipes from any culture around the world, along with hashtags that are dedicated to specific types of foods. Ramen, sushi and dumplings have particularly devoted followings, as well as tacos, pizza and anything else you can imagine.
Spokane has historically had very little ethnically diverse cuisine (although we once had a Chinatown that suffered a major loss during the fire that left only some of the city untouched), but we are at present experiencing a bit of a cultural revolution in the food industry. Every day, new restaurants are opening featuring beautifully prepared dishes from cultures that are around the globe, and the menus that are offered are in tune with what is increasingly popular online.
Even the ingredients available at local grocery stores have changed drastically as local shoppers expand their tastes. When watching food programs on television, it changes our awareness about what is available. Let’s put it this way, ten years ago, did you regularly see a bánh mì sandwich, mole, chicken and waffles, soup dumplings, sushi or ceviche on restaurant menus? Probably not, and yet now these beacons of cultural diversity are everywhere. This fusion is not just about reproducing recipes, but also the creation of new ones with ingredients from all over the globe.
One of the most beloved food trends is the bánh mì sandwich, which was a result of French colonists bringing the baguette to Vietnam in the 1860’s, and is a fusion of the two cultures. It consists of an airy baguette, sour pickled daikon and carrot, crisp cilantro, spicy chilis, and cucumber coupled with either pork, pate, or sardines. The version at Ruins is near legendary, and on your next visit, you’ll definitely want to check to see if they have it available. The team features street food on a rotating basis, and regionally-inspired dishes on a whim. In a casual environment, they can produce beautifully elevated food and give you the chance to visit destinations around the world with just a short trip over the Monroe Street Bridge.
RÜT Spokane just released a new menu for their soon-to-open hotspot, and features globally-inspired favorites like a sesame ginger crunch salad, avocado spring rolls, and a kung-pao cauliflower bowl. This restaurant is plant-based, so you can bring your vegan or vegetarian friends and everyone can leave happy. When you focus on bold flavors and excellent preparation, you don’t miss the meat. As one of the newest restaurants in Spokane, this spot will be one that even your most discerning foodie friend would love to check out.
The Asian fusion menu at D’Bali Asian Bistro is beyond compare in the greater Spokane area. Out in Airway Heights, this little gem is increasingly popular with locals because of the variety of fantastically made specialties from all over the Asian continent, and the personality of the Chef/Owner Mama Jeannie. A new chef is joining the D’Bali team, too. John Wilson (who formerly worked at Italia Trattoria) is rounding out this dynamic team to turn out Malaysian curry, Indonesian fried rice, and Korean lettuce wraps every day.
In the United States, sushi, falafel, fajitas and pho are as American as apple pie, buttered popcorn and potato chips. It is nearly a rite of passage for migrants to add cherished food dishes. Sometimes first hated, eyed-suspiciously, loathed and despised dishes are now merely remarkable for how fast they enter the American culinary landscape. Without human migration, there would be no vanilla, sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes, chili, beans, pumpkins, peanuts, corn, cashews and cacao distributed worldwide, and we can hardly imagine our lives without them.
Step out of your comfort zone at one of these fantastic local restaurants with anything but local flavors, and you just might find a new favorite.