Food Culture

On the term “Floribbean Cuisine”

Recently my work was written about on a site named, “Tasting Table”. The author didn’t interview me. We have come to a place in time when this is more the case than ever. I’m not hard to locate online so that is perplexing to me. As you will see and read (if you hit the link), it discusses the origination of a term that has floated around the food universe for 30 years. It is a term I never adopted nor used to describe my cuisine. The other chefs named in the article did not either as far as I know. In fact very few chefs who cook in some proximate way as me do not or rarely do. The reason I never was drawn to the term is by the inherent limits of the word itself. It is obviously a hyphenation of ‘Florida’ and ‘Caribbean’. While that might seem to be the case on a cursory glance at some menus it is not so with my food. Therein lies the problem. The cuisine I embrace and have named is, “New World Cuisine”. Why? Because it doesn’t limit me from all of the foods of Central and South America which also inspire me to cook. To be clear I dearly love Caribbean Cuisine. And though trickier to describe I love the cuisine of Florida too. Like a busy delta the waters spill one into the other and the identity of each is reborn. This makes for a broad palate from which to cook. I think the article is pleasant to read in most respects. But identity is important and I will always seek to draw the most accurate characters I can. As a chef I am not only a cook but my goal is also a person who is fascinated by history and geography. I was blessed to by sheer luck end up living in Key West when I was not even a true cook yet. I followed a childhood friend to the bohemian island in the early 1970’s and without a plan in my head began to find a path to the cooking I became known for over time. I have written six cookbooks all of which are my way of understanding and celebrating where we live.

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