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Tomatoes and Bicycle Pumps


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#1 Suzi Edwards

Suzi Edwards
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,608 posts
  • Location:Sydney

Posted 13 December 2004 - 03:18 PM

I think I remember reading that you experimented with tomatoes and bicycle pumps to create "tomato air" and I was struck by how innovative it seemed to me to put the two together. Can you tell us a little bit about things that you experimented with that you thought would work but didn't? Or maybe about some of the by-products you've discovered while experimenting?
Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

#2 Ferran Adrià

Ferran Adrià
  • participating member
  • 44 posts

Posted 19 December 2004 - 03:06 PM

There are many of those, Suzi. We treat creativity in a very normal way. Don’t think that we consider creativity as something mystical: as we go to shop or to the market or clean the pots and pans, we “do” creativity. We don’t magnify it because otherwise we would become crazy.

Spherification, for example, was developed in one hour, after a visit to a factory. The technique of doing hard balls has been there for many years. Gelatine shots. Spherification consists in anticipation. You extract the ball sooner and the inside remains in a liquid state. Some say: and you’re so famous for that? Well, someone discovered the salt and changed cooking for ever. And that’s something simple, isn’t it?

Things are not important because of the effort required to accomplish, but because of what they are.

The question of copying has appeared here and there in this Q&A. We have a crystal clear example of that in this year, which is nitrogen. We haven’t been the first to work with nitrogen. The first one I saw using nitrogen was Hervé This. I saw him in 1996. We paid no attention to him. It was on the TV, with Michel Bras, doing a sorbet. And Bras paid no attention to him. Afterwards, Heston seriously started using nitrogen back in 2000. We were playing with it, doing some tests which were confirmed when Albert and Oriol visited Heston. But when we adopt nitrogen, we start by developing the synergies with all our techniques and change the world of nitro. You can do the “Ajoblanco 2004”, or the pistachio truffle, which is incredible. It’s a very simple technique that opens an amazing way with dried fruit purées. Thanks to our version of the technique, those truffle can be done. Or the outstanding pâte de fruits using agar-agar we made the last day of elBulli’s 2004 season. Really outstanding. Or nitro spaghetti. This is when you realize that when used properly, techniques are wonderful instruments. The problem is when you don’t do it right. No matter if it’s spherification, air or foams. Do it right.

This example of nitrogen, a technique which is not ours and which we adapt, I would dare to say that is a master class to those who complain about copies in haute cuisine. Nonsense! The issue is to have the ability and the personality to imprint a personal touch to the technique.
Ferran Adrià
elBulli