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January 29, 2004

Adrią's Doritos

OK, Paulette, I know you love those crazy Catalan chefs, so read the whole article before uh, foaming at the mouth... but I have to say that Sara Dickerman's article on Slate on the new El Bulli cookbook made me think. It mixes effusive praise with dark foreboding about what Ferran Adrią's innovative cooking might yield in the hands of lesser chefs--and more importantly, where his foams and gelees intersect with the worst innovations of the processed food industry. Dickerman makes a great point at the end of the article:

By feeding the hunger for novel, bigger-than-life flavors, he's encouraging a kind of Technicolor food spectrum far beyond nature's scope. No cooking is "natural," but as trend-setting chefs and the food industry keep widening the gap between raw ingredients and finished food, the consumer's ability and desire to create tempting, nourishing food at home continues to atrophy.
Posted by jay at January 29, 2004 11:14 AM | TrackBack
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Give me a friggin' break. The whole hypermodernizing of food presentation is utterly ridiculous. I can understand a desire for originality, but the Jetsons are not what I want as the inspiration for my meals. The slow food movement has far more soul than this crap.

Posted by: Peter on January 29, 2004 12:48 PM

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you, and I'd already read the article. The part I don't get is why Slate and its writers seem to have such a fear of Ferran Adria and his disciples. They are a handful of chefs who've been doing this sort of wackiness for years, without any ensuing culinary apocalypse. I stand by my commentary on the last Slate fearmongering piece of the doom Adria's ilk will visit upon right-thinking eaters everywhere--that what he's doing is art, whereas cooking is generally more about craft. Just as Kosuke Tsumura's runway fasions are pretty damned unlikely to spell the end of clothing that isn't designed to survive a post-apocalyptic rave, I don't think we have to worry that the Campagnes, Brasas, and Larks of Seattle will replace their lovely creations with Adria's line of powdered flavorings.

But I am still interested in this fear of what he's doing Slate seems to be stuck on. What the hell is that all about? And were these folks as scared about the impact Frank Gehry would have on architecture? Or Matthew Barney's affect on narrative cinema? I really think these people need to chill--maybe with a nice geleed martini.

Posted by: paulette on January 29, 2004 01:00 PM

I think Slate is afraid because we all are... food is yet another zone of fear now-- low fat or low carbs?; mad cow? genetically modified organisms?; and yes, the fear that in the future everything will be a Dorito.

I think the author is reasonably afraid that both craft and comfort could be under attack, via a dual-pronged, high/low Jetsonization of food. Maybe Slate is a bit alarmist, but food is not fashion-- I just don't buy the argument that the Catalans are the couturiers of food and that the trends they inspire can be counted on to stay safely in the realm of experimentation. Look at the revolution that little Alice Waters started at Chez Panisse! I think Dickerman praises appropriately but takes pause at a strange convergence of two seemingly unrelated trends. Nowhere did I hear her asking patriotic gourmands to boycot the Catalans. (That should be Cheney's job... "Freedom foams," I can hear it now!)

Posted by: jay on January 29, 2004 09:53 PM

Gelee and foams? Sounds dreadful!

I need less interesting food, except for periodic celebrations.

Posted by: Gary on January 30, 2004 09:18 AM

Here's a story from the Associated Press today: Chef Fired For Attracting Too Many Diners. It sure seems like the Swedes could have found another solution rather than non-renewal of the chef's contract.

Posted by: Gary on January 30, 2004 12:31 PM
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