Ferran Adri? And Molecular Gastronomy
April 10, 2004 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Definitely Not Your Mom's Cooking, But Comfort Food Of A Sort: that is, if you're an avant-garde seen-it-all, eaten-it-all gastronome whose jaded taste-buds crave a jolt of novelty, humour and sheer flamboyance. By far the most exciting, celebrated and downright controversial chef on God's good earth is called Ferran Adria. His restaurant, El Bulli has just re-opened, after the yearly six-month period experimentation of challenging new dishes in his taller/laboratory. [More inside.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (19 comments total)
Well, the much-awaited first reports of the new menu are just in, from eGullet (be sure to check out the superb recent interview conducted and written by Jonathan Day and Moby Pomerance) and Chowhound. But how far would you be prepared to travel (never mind grovel to get an almost impossible table) to try such ground-breaking, experimental cuisine?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:24 PM on April 10, 2004

I was telling someone earlier tonight that I plan my dream vacations around places I want to eat. Chalk up another one.

(Although, were I to make the trip, I must admit that I'd be more interested in finding the best Paella in Spain rather than something so fancy.)
posted by Cyrano at 6:34 PM on April 10, 2004

I don't want experimental.



End of discussion.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:30 PM on April 10, 2004

::hides veggies from crash::

Does El Bulli serve frog ala peche? Or Dogs in Elk?
posted by wendell at 7:38 PM on April 10, 2004

Potatoes? Why, you great, big flaming faggotista! Isn't meat enough for you that you require the dainty, airy-fairy little tubers to go with it? Does the Cave Age mean so little to your gayness? For the life of me, Crashie mon petit chou, I never figured you for a mincing, limp-wristé, tater-kissing lover of freakin' pommes de terre! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:42 PM on April 10, 2004

I dare you to say that shit in English, you...EUROPEAN!

posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:45 PM on April 10, 2004

I don't mind a little froth, myself.

Unfortunately, my Ex left WITH the Redi-Whip can...
posted by wendell at 7:46 PM on April 10, 2004

Hmm, this guy do home delivery?

But anyway I'm much more impressed by novel combinations of flavours than novel "designs" of food...like the prawns and pipettes. I was amazed and intrigued by Jamie Oliver's Venison with Chocolate sauce, for instance, but this article doesn't really reveal much about what this chef is doing in terms of actual food.
posted by Jimbob at 7:47 PM on April 10, 2004

Er, Jimbob, you're not meant to actually eat the food. What a faux pas!

(P.S. I'm taking this opportunity to include a link to a dissenting opinion on Adrià - which I should have done when saying his culinary inventions were controversial. The problem is that the best links are in French and Spanish.)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:54 PM on April 10, 2004

the best links are in French and Spanish
I've heard that about sausage, too...

SWM* seeks MF**with Redi-Whip, will accept Chocolate...
*Stupid Wendell MeFite **Meta Female

posted by wendell at 8:05 PM on April 10, 2004

On a serious note, Jimbob - check out the other links, which are full of the intriguing combinations Adrià has proposed - some of them astounding. In fact, most of his dishes are served with advice on the way and order in which to savour his combinations.

This man is truly changing the way food is perceived and enjoyed. Chocolate and meat are a combination that go back to the Aztecs, a standard of Mexican and Spanish cooking, and Jamie Oliver, a very pedestrian cook, is just riffing on a very familiar, centuries-old melody.

P.S. Assuming Ferran Adrià wasn't all that well known, I chose an introductory article for my main link. But the others are where, well, where the meat is. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:09 PM on April 10, 2004

Put me in the slow food camp. This is disturbing:

..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.

Is it any wonder our delight in fantasy may lead us to ill health for lack of the natural nourishment we really need. It is a continuation of the abstraction of reality so prevalent today and eventually this divorce from reality will lead to problems. The rising cost of national health care threatens to bankrupt first-world countries in our lifetimes.. instead of using food as a whimsical escape like a cheap movie it should be seen with deep respect from where it came and what it can do. We are what we eat.
posted by stbalbach at 8:46 PM on April 10, 2004

stbalbach -- I doubt that the people who need help with basic nutrition or are in need of help figuring out what to cook for dinner with three screaming children and a hungry husband due home any minute are the ones exploring this kind of cuisine. I think that the chefs that are producing whole new categories of culinary art truly do appreciate where the food comes from and where it's going.

But really, why shouldn't food be displayed and set up nicely when you're eating at home? I did ginger-wasabi ahi steaks on the grill tonight (just slightly more expensive than beef, and a whole lot tastier) and served them on a bed of spinach, steamed with a hint of balsamic vinegar and garlic, and a crescent of couscous along the side. I realize that very few people eat a meal that's that nutritious regularly, and I think that's a shame -- it took some forethought (defrosted the ahi steaks this morning, marinated them all day) but other than that, took much less time than going out or waiting for delivery to arrive would've.
posted by SpecialK at 9:12 PM on April 10, 2004

SpecialK, that sounds like a great dinner, defiantly in the "slow food" camp nothing you would find at El Bulli.

These chefs are looking at the whacked out processed food coming from the labs of Kraft and the shelves of Safeway and turning it around into high-end gourmet spectacles, complete with the chemical taste enhances and calling it the new wave. I mean, pop-rocks and foam for dinner? The author suggests this kind of glorification of what is basically junk food further removes us from the reality of food as nutrition.

Style over substance is the modern way so it is entirely predictable that this trend will continue to become every more popular.
posted by stbalbach at 9:50 PM on April 10, 2004

Given the portion sizes that this particular chef seems to deal in I don't think anyone would suffer ill health by trying to survive on these things. If I were planning on eating there I'd make sure to bring a sandwich with me so I'm not hungry afterwards.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:41 PM on April 10, 2004

Fudge: bacon's new best friend.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:33 AM on April 11, 2004

I mean, pop-rocks and foam for dinner? The author suggests this kind of glorification of what is basically junk food further removes us from the reality of food as nutrition.

You guys should read all of the articles before you come down on Adriá -- the portions are small, but there are thirty of them, so people leave full, and one of the reviews of the most recent menu notes how incredibly healthy and refreshing the food was. It's not like Adriá is taking away your tasty slow food -- he's showing that other types of food don't have to be so terrible. It is possible for food to be novel, portable, packaged, healthy, and amazingly delicious all at the same time: we don't have to settle for Cheez-Its and yoghurt bars.

The point is that this food isn't junk food -- it's amazingly good and good for you. I for one like the idea that we can escape the dichotomy between great home-cooked food and bad pre-processed food, and insist on great food no matter the format or environment. I think it's awesome that Adriá is working with food scientists to develop new cooking processes, and I hope that some day we'll be able to eat nutritious, awesome food in all sorts of crazy new ways. I love to cook -- I'd love to be able to cook all of Adriá's crazy food in addition to the old standards.

The article in the New York Times about how lots of sushi is actually frozen using a high-tech new freezing process that preserves flavor seems to me on to the same idea: new technologies, techniques, and attitudes can let us all eat fish that tastes as good as the fish at Tsukiji, no matter where we live. That's awesome, plain and simple.
posted by josh at 9:28 AM on April 11, 2004

So what.
posted by LowDog at 9:31 AM on April 11, 2004

Now I'm hungry, I'll just pop into the laboratory for a cheese sarnie. With ketchup.
posted by Fat Buddha at 10:12 AM on April 11, 2004

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