Back when food fusions were young, pineapple on pizza was too much for some people.
Since then, fevered brains have been leaping whole hemispheres to come up with Frankenfoods like quinoa pad Thai and pho-stuffed burritos. It sure didn’t hurt that Southeast Asian and Mexican cuisine share ingredients like cilantro and tamarind.
BOMBAY BURRITOS NEAR ME
There’s a Frankenfood that’s even called a “frankie” (itself a fusiony phrase from the French bread used to make it).
The wildly popular but hard-to-find Indian street food, also known as “Bombay burrito,” is a divinely flaky Indian flatbread, grilled, stuffed with protein or veggies, and rolled for maximum street portability.
Arekie, a Fort Myers food truck that often rolls into Punta Gorda, fuses its owners’ love of both Spanish and Indian street food, jazzing up Latin food with a dash of Indian spice.
Even its name is a mashup: “ARE-pa” (a filled corn patty from Latin America) + “fran-KIE.”
Arekie’s culinary brains, Sush Mansharamani, cheffed for a 5-star catering service in Spain’s Canary Islands, and husband Monish is a self-described avid cook.
Now they’re dreaming up combos like Indian butter chicken loaded on fritas (fries) and chicken tikka tacos on mini naans. And the crowd goes wild!
Arekie ($), 732-570-4396, can be found wherever there are food trucks. Their schedule is on Facebook @arekiefusion.
FARMERS’ FARE FUSION
After his New Orleans home washed away in Hurricane Katrina, Englewood pitmaster Shay Vercher used salvaged hospital debris to fashion a commercial barbecue smoker.
Mark and Jacqueline Homer, who winter in North Port, scour birch trees in the forests of upstate New York to harvest healing chaga mushrooms.
Venice songwriter James Hawkins jams and sings ballads about Florida history.
They and others gather every weekend for a nascent patchouli-scented farmers market, selling barbecue, hot dogs, cupcakes and lobster rolls; purveying jewelry, crafts, tie dye, foraged mushrooms, guacamole, CBD, fresh seafood, native veggies, free-range eggs and good cheer.
Much more than a market, this is a brainchild of Englewood’s Bill Lundgren and Judi Jenkins, who’ve launched Life Realized, an all-volunteer 501©(3), 509(a)(2) public charity for self-actualizers.
Its motto is “Realize your best life by achieving your life’s passion”—whether in music, art, life or career.
“That’s the intent of everything we do,” said Lundgren. “Incubating small business entrepreneurs is part of our mission. We’ve already started mentoring several vendors, helping grow their businesses beyond the basic opportunity that the market provides. “When we first came to Englewood, we realized that everything here is geared toward ‘season.’ The rest of us wanted things to do all year long.”
Now Lundgren and Jenkins are making sure that, every Sunday, all year long, Englewood has a weekend farmers market.
The Life Realized market is at 501 W. Dearborn Street (across from Comadre’s), Englewood, every Sunday of the year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jesus Lopez and his brother Silverio didn’t always call their wide offering of Mexican, Greek, Italian and American dishes “fusion.”
Now they do.
For more than a decade the brothers worked at Alvaro’s Family Restaurant in North Port, while their sister Maria and husband Vicente Mata (now owner of North Port and Port Charlotte’s Blue, Pink and Lime Tequila restaurants) ran Tennessee Mexican restaurants.
When Alvaro’s original owner, Fred Fotos, decided to sell the business, he insisted that Jesus, Silverio and Maria, by then also working at Alvaro’s, would be his successors.
The Lopezes had been planning their own family restaurant in Cape Coral, named after their grandfather, but Fotos’ offer had to come first.
With Alvaro’s well established in North Port, that Cape Coral enterprise — Gregory’s Fusion Restaurant Bar & Grill — recently opened, serving the cultural fusions this family has mastered.
Gregory’s Fusion Restaurant ($-$$), 239-541-8491 and 239-984-5026, 1242 SW Pine Island Road, Cape Coral, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and Sunday to 2 p.m.