A fun read - I find myself myself blending a bit, but I can’t say I’ve done a lot of mixing of ingredients myself. What my parents often did was to take foreign ingredients are prepare them in Chinese ways. As an example, when my parents discovered pita. My mom liked it but missed the sweetness and softness of typical “bao”, so her thing was to steam it for a bit to make it soft, and then she would sprinkle a bit of sugar in between and put a slice or two of deli ham inside to make a ham roll. She loved this, and my sisters and I didn’t care for this weird preparation.
My parents regularly steamed and topped all fish with soy, hot oil and ginger/scallion the traditional Chinese way. This wasn’t so bad with salmon, but it was awful (IMO) for swordfish. She eventually moved to steaming with a bit of lemon and salted, preserved veggies (didn’t care for this either). One of the funniest that I remember is when someone gave my mom a few artichokes, and she didn’t know what to do with it. She hadn’t even seen this before, though figured out she had to cut off all the leaves first. She eventually got to the core and decided to boil them. She said it tasted like a potato…
I think all American foods reflect this concept to some extent. Just perhaps more apparent
in NYC, as they will always think they’re the straw that stirs the drink, to quote a former Yankee.