Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

The Search for Magic

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I just saw a film about a man driven by his desire to create and share new experiences in the dining room. Not yours, though—you had to go to his place to have his vision shared with you.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress was about the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and the restaurant located north of Barcelona that he led. It recently closed, and I suspect the intense quest for the new and unexpected probably wore out the man. His curiosity was responsible for changing how we think about the experience of eating—an opportunity for good-tasting nourishment and shared conversation, or, better yet, an orchestrated series of surprises and delight?

Adrià’s pursuit of magic made it necessary to close the restaurant every year for six months for “research.” The kitchen staff would retire to Barcelona during the winter months to play with food, examining texture, taste, and presentation. The meticulously documented results were put into play upon their return and fine-tuned in the actual restaurant environment.

What made this all work was not just the intensity and focus of the man, but his willingness to experiment and look beyond the “rules” of the kitchen. I suppose the lesson is that we all need to be open to what lies outside the box—the potential rewards are too great to ignore.

[The movie site.]

Agriculture by Design

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
I just picked up my half-a-share from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in my hometown. It takes only a few minutes to get there, and inevitably I return much happier than when I left. The smells of the fresh produce get me thinking of the all the things I can cook with my bounty, including many dishes I’ve never made before. (Ever used kohlrabi in a recipe before?) But the really, really big thing for me is the taste—the objects found in the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket are another species than what is in my box.

It didn’t used to be that way, but “designing” vegetables for shipping and storage means that taste takes a back seat. Am I happy that I can eat fresh vegetables in the winter in the northeast? Sure, but it’s pact with the devil, since now even in the summer most vegetables in the summer still have the wrong texture and no taste when bought at the supermarket. (It’s not a surprise that lots of kids won’t eat their vegetables!)

There’s a way we can design the taste back in—support your local farms.