Posted 14 December 2004 - 03:13 AM
In the meantime, let me propose this subject to you and read what you think about it:
Does the ideal gastronomy exist or is it the gastronomy of every one of us?
Hablamos . . .
Posted 14 December 2004 - 08:23 AM
I do not believe the ideal gastronomy exists. I don't even believe we all have an ideal gastronomy. If we do, it may be a momentary ideal that shifts with each taste that enters our mouths. Everything is relative to a time and place in our lives. As a young student of architecture I happened to read le Corbusier's words to the effect that the human eye delights in the simple shapes of the cube, sphere and pyramid and the primary colors red, yellow and blue, but I read this expression of his thoughts shortly after my eyes were delighted by several buildings of his that were formed of sweeping curves and painted shades of green, purple and other colors. The validity of his words had to be understood in terms of the popular architecture of the day when those words were written.
Not only may we all have our own idea, but it should change with our experiences. I have eaten satisfying meals in many restaurants, but I would not necessarily recommend each of them to every diner. Thank you for asking that question. I look forward to your answers to our questions.
Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.
My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 09:59 AM
To clarify, and as Bux said, I would not recommend every fine meal (at a restaurant or home) to every diner. To me though, the ideal gastro experience is the one that makes me feel most comfortable. To sum it up it is a meal cooked by my mom, a meal that brings back fond memories of childhood. This is MY ideal gastronomy.
Thanks for starting the discussion Chef.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 10:53 AM
As Foodman said some of the best Gastronomy came out of my mothers oven, however tomorrows Ideal may come from you chef, and another from the pie and chips from the pub down the road.
Anyones Ideal gastronomy is, in my opinion, purely subjective. And can be changed at a moments notice dependant on mood and feeling, not to mention ones appetite.
And now I begin to understand the nature of the question Chef Adria, this is a question that can not be answered, all that can be achieved is an insight to each members thoughts and love for food in general.
I personally cannot wait to dine at El bulli, but due to work and family commitments it will, sadly, not be next year. and truly hope that on the day, as I am sure that it will, yours will be my ideal gastronomy. However this evening I look forward to my Mothers recipe of Boston Baked beans and some simple crusty bread.
Gracias, for such an interesting beginning to what I am sure will be an amazing Q&A
but not so, spending my time playing not working
Posted 14 December 2004 - 12:17 PM
I would like to think that rigid boundaries no longer exist and that gastronomy now exists on a more personal level. As a professional working in a kitchen with cooks that have different backgrounds it is easy to see how each individual's culinary history and interests inlfluence the menu and preparation of items.
An ideal can no longer exist due to the rapid speed at which the public perception changes. It is through the passion and whimsy of individuals (evident by the pervasion of your rulebreaking influence Jefe) that Gastronomy is now developed.
Crashed and Burned Cook
Posted 14 December 2004 - 03:34 PM
In defence of my alma mater, I have to say that French gastronomy is the world's ideal. I say this knowing well that it is not a very popular opinion to hold. The past several months have been a time for deep introspection for me and I have reached a conclusion. IMHO, French techniques and methods have been misunderstood and tragically, sometimes by the French themselves. I have no doubt now that they are superior to any other style. The way I see it:
The gastronomy of France(note: the cuisine of France existed as long as the land, her people and since the time the first green weed sprouted from her earth) did not develop before the evolution of the French language. The template for French methods and techniques is the same as it was for the French language. Standardisation. Logical progression. I noted that some choose to transalte this as 'rigidity'. Let us not forget that this template can be applied to *any* ingredient from *any* part of the world. How then can it be 'rigid'? Will anyone call programming standards 'rigid'? Are the laws of demand and supply rigid? If you slap someone on the face, they will flinch. Is that a rigid response? How can standards be a bad thing? An Italian queen, Catherine de Medici, revolutionised the French kitchen by introducing her kitchen garden to her new married home. Since then, the French have never stopped welcoming other influences. Couscous is as much a part of French cuisine as duck fat. I am going to make a wild guess here. If you give a resident of the frozen arctic wasteland a block of tamarind, in all likelihood, he wouldnt know what to do with it. The French cook will sniff it, taste it, lick it, probably sing to it and come up with something that is at least a notch above edible. The French codified the method and made it logical. Does it need revision from time to time? Of course! That they are not reluctant to do so has been proved time and again. Nobody can complain that they have been allergic to foreign influences. It is an unfair allegation.
French gastronomy is not just ideal, it is a beautiful thing to witness. I see a bit of French technique everywhere. I see it in British cuisine, Japanese cooking and even in the much tsk tsked american fast food cuisine. How can it be? Surely, they too had emerged at the same time or maybe even earlier than French culinary techniques and methods. It seems so not because the French are dominating and they ruthlessly spear the flag of their own culinary culture in every nook and corner of the world. It is recognisable because they did something that nobody else bothered to do. It is all pervading because they have meticulously given a name for every process and established controls for every process. Yes, it seems a bit anal. But an 'ideal' cannot afford to be a free spirit. As an example, consider blanching. If blanching is a process, the in built control of the technique ensures that the end product isnt too mushy or burnt or too crunchy. The French cooking point may not be 'ideal', but if you know the French technique for blanching vegetables, you'll know when to stop cooking if you need your vegetables mushy. Or crunchy. Or perfectly biteable. Of course, if you want to cook your vegetables mushy, the process wont be called 'blanching'. Processes. Process controls. Checks.
French gastronomy will never die or cease to be the ideal as long as they are open to embracing other influences. Contrary to popular belief, I think that a French chef is the more likely to be flexible than anyone else. I submit that the flexibility and the logical nature of French gastronomy makes it the ideal gastronomy.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 04:40 PM
I've been thinking about your question all afternoon...It's a great question that I hope you're going to give your opinion on...here's what I think...
Gastronomy, by definition, is the study of eating...or the science of eating...Everyone inherently has the potential to be a part of gastronomy because everyone eats...The defining factor (or i should say what narrows the field) is how aware are we while eating...What factors are at work during the eating process... Food and drink sustains, good food and drink elevates, great food and drink excites...I guess these levels of awareness are based solely on our 5 basic senses...Every person has a different sense profile...
With that said said...The ideal gastronomy is in each individual, there is no ideal gastronomy.
thank you for posing that question.
culinary arts student at Kendall College, Chicago
Posted 14 December 2004 - 05:32 PM
Simply put, I think that the ideal gastronomy (which has to be viewed and interpreted by each individual) is that which makes us smile. It is cuisine that interests the uninterested and excites the experienced diner. It makes us think about cuisine where we may not have before.
Just my opinion; however, I think that this model can be applied to the best of all cuisine, from an awsome taco stand, to a street vendor that serves great ice cream, to the best Michelin restaurants.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 10:14 PM
Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)
Posted 14 December 2004 - 10:45 PM
Some people might argue that happiness is not always the best gage of interest. While this comparison doesn't always work with food, for a moment lets compare it to the experience of viewing a painting or a sculpture.
Simply put, I think that the ideal gastronomy (which has to be viewed and interpreted by each individual) is that which makes us smile.
People can be shocked, made curious, afraid, or even somewhat disgusted and there could be some validity in provoking that. While the window of acceptable reactions might be a bit narrower for something which has to go into your stomach, it could be argued that at least some diners might be interested. Not all, but some. What is common, I suppose, is that to be er... gastronomic... I imagine it would have to move you in some fashion rather than just sustain you.
In the end though, I guess I am arguing for the position that gastronomy is probably ultimately pretty individual in nature.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 12:10 AM
Posted 15 December 2004 - 02:41 AM
Hablamos . . .
What a provacative question that is worth considering for anyone interested in food and eating, even for those of us who are not personally familiar with your work but only know of it through the virtual pleasure of other's comments. The question implies within its own answer: that in fact there is no ideal gastronomy. We each carry within ourselves our own personal identities, our very tastes, weaned from our mother's milk and from every other individual experience that make us who we are. That there is in fact no single ideal gastronomy but an infinity of ideal gastronomies unique to each of us.
Yet for many, the common act of eating transcends the individual. Indeed for possibly most of the world, there may well be any number of 'ideal' collective gastronomies - national, regional, local. My friends who live in the Barolo wine region eat an unchanging diet of traditional foods, carne cruda, tajarin, bagna caoda, brasato al Barolo, torta di nocciola and so on. They have no doubt whatsoever that this is indeed the ideal gastronomy, no, not the ideal, the *only* gastronomy. And they criticize harshly the way similar dishes may be prepared even in an area as close as nearby Asti, or in another neighbour's home. I love the purity, the authenticity of such traditional foods, and when I'm there I share their belief in the ideal. But only when I'm there. Then, fickle and inconstant as I am, I soon shamelessly move on to other tastes and pleasures. My friends in Andalucia, meanwhile, delight in taking me to tapas bars, to expose me to the wonder of perfectly fried mariscos in Puerto de Santa María and Sanlucar de Barrameda (what can be better?), and see nothing unusual about sitting down to dinner at 11.30 at night. How else, hombre, is one to eat, to live? In Korea, my distant relatives could simply not exist, could not enjoy a meal without an array of savoury and tasty panchan, the low table set above a heated ondol floor covered with dishes of this and that, not forgetting the many varieties of spicy, chili-tinted, fermented kim chis always on offer. And to finish: a bowl of steamed plain sticky Korean white rice, what else? Yet if we offered them in turn one of our own West Country dietary mainstays, say a slab of the most delicious mature local farmhouse cheddar, made from unpasteurised milk and smelling, yes, not just a little of the barn floor, well, it would make them feel literally sick...
Most of the world, in fact, the traditional, unchanging world, does indeed believe in its own ideal gastronomy, however much we may dismiss the ennui of tradition. How I envy such certainty, such faith, such acceptance and unquestioning belief: the knowledge that the Chiantis from the Provicia di Firenze, or from a particular comune, or even single individual azienda agricola, are the only ones worth drinking, in fact the best wines in the world (notwithstanding that the world is a rather large place). The rest of us, meanwhile, are left to wander here and there, trying this, sampling that, adding of soupçon here, a dash there, seeking to create our own patchwork fusion of ideals in a world where anything can literally go.
Your question, of course, is a rhetorical one: how can there be an ideal gastronomy any more than there can be an ideal diner? Or perhaps there can be? The person who truly is able to come to the table with no prejudices and preconceptions, who is open to new taste experiences not simply in the spirit of novelty but with real understanding and discernment, as a citizen of the world, eager to experience, to taste and savour that which makes us human.
The concept of an ideal gastronomy in a Platonic sense implies food as art (as has already been touched on above), or at least as something that sets itself above the mundane matters of survival and the need for sustenance. Yet is not this very need, the daily requirement to feed ourselves, the basic primeval enjoyment we get from satisfying hunger, what makes us human, what defines who we are? Do we not, perhaps, lose something of our basic humanity when we come to the table not because we are hungry, but simply for the pleasure of novel experiences?
If we are what we eat, then each of us carries within ourselves our own ideal gastronomy. National, regional and personal cuisines of course may help to define our identities. Yet however different we are, we still may be able to come to the table to try and seek a common ground, and through our senses share a common language, common tastes and flavours that we can all at least appreciate for a while, if not ever wholly understand.
In seeking to push back the boundaries of any such common ground, the canon of, say, Western, French-inspired classic gastronomy for example, or any strong regional traditions, we may be invited to question what food and flavour is - and the answers may be different to each of us individually. An approach such as yours (if I understand it at all) may indeed help us to understand and realise more fully who and what we are. Or maybe not. Ultimately is the meal an intellectual experience that we consider and analyse in retrospect; or is it a hedonistic and sensual one that we absorb unthinking and with no need of conscience understanding? Or can it, should it be both?
Either way, I thank God (if there is one - or, ¿quien sabe?, perhaps there are many) that my world does not have certainty of fixed belief, that there is in fact, no ideal gastronomy for me: we may suffer from lacking faith, the certainty of religion in a multi-cultural world that grows ever more confused and has fewer answers by the day, or the simple satisfaction and solidity of a cuisine that is the same today as it was last century, last night, tomorrow. Yet such freedom ultimately leaves us able to taste, to explore, to enjoy, to be open to experience a universe and more of flavours, however unusual, novel, foreign or amazingly different. To find out who, in fact, we are. Who you are.
That to me, perhaps, is what an ideal gastronomy might be able achieve: to lift us out of our corporeal selves to some higher plane, to feel, to taste the wholly bearable lightness of being. But after such an uplifting experience, I imagine that I might be feeling rather peckish...
With all best wishes,
Edited by Marco_Polo, 15 December 2004 - 05:11 AM.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 04:52 AM
Posted 15 December 2004 - 05:14 AM
Posted 15 December 2004 - 06:22 AM
I suspect universal criteria for gastronomy are fine ingredients, lovingly prepared.
Beyond that all is relative, not absolute.
There are many "perfect" gastronomies, just as there is no one perfect fruit; a perfect apple differs from a perfect orange, and a perfect peach, and it is not meaningful to discuss which fruit is more perfect. Your perfect peach may not even be mine, though we might both agree it should not be bruised or rotten.
Edited by jackal10, 15 December 2004 - 06:30 AM.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 07:23 AM
A very interesting question, because it seems to me that your work does just this. You seem to pursue "the ideal"--in the Platonic, philosophical sense. Seeking pure flavor, a pure sensual/sensory culinary experience.
I think it is for this reason that your work has remained (and will remain) inimitable. Not only does it require a tremendous amount of work, research, and trial and error, but also a singular personal vision and motivation to search for the essence or ideal and apply it to gastronomy.
A gastronomy of ideals = an ideal gastronomy?
Which brings me to another question that I wanted to ask but wasn't sure how to frame...
Have you seen the Els Joglars production of El Retablo de las Maravillas?***
For me, this really drove home the fact that many literally cannot perceive what you are doing. Further proof that you are operating on a different level, closer to the pursuit of ideals, while the rest of us are deep in the cave looking at the shadows? Or that most people aren't ready for food and eating to be examined in a systematic multidisciplinary fashion--through philosophy, chemistry, art, theater...?
My personal ideal: food that is in perfect harmony with it natural, historical, geographical, and cultural setting.
***El Retablo de las Maravillas is a theatrical work by Cervantes. In it, a conman tricks the other characters into pretending that they see something that doesn't exist. He does this by telling them that only those of "pure blood" (in the sense of the Inquisition) can see it. Of course no one is really "pure" so they must carry out the ruse.
In the Els Joglars adaptation (now in Madrid), one of the retablos is very obviously inspired by Adria. In it, several people from all over Spain are chosen via a sort of lottery to dine at a restaurant where they are served air with a side of nothingness, accompanied by a smattering of invisibility. Interestingly, it's the only retablo that doesn't work (the others deal with religion, art, politics). The people just can't fake it and the whole system breaks down.
Edited by butterfly, 15 December 2004 - 08:03 AM.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 07:31 AM
Does the ideal gastronomy exist or is it the gastronomy of every one of us?
I think there are several tiers to this question.
a) can we make objective judgments about gastronomy such that we can evolve an idea of what 'the ideal gastronomy' is, or is this a necessarily subjective realm?
b) if we can make objective judgments about gastronomy, then does 'the ideal gastronomy' actually exist, or is purely theoretical?
c) if 'the ideal gastronomy' does exist, then what is it?
d) moreover, on a dry, philosophical level, is gastronomy the sort of thing which can have have an ideal?
e) if it is the sort of thing which can have an ideal, then to what group of things does gastronomy belong?
I am not too hot on philosophy, so will only give a partial, brief reply and let others take the bait if they wish.
Noone would deny that some substances are better to eat than others: a ripe peach will beat a brick every time. To an extent, therefore, individuated objective judgments about gastronomy can be made. However, it is not so easy to make value judgments about two entirely different dishes served in different surroundings at different times in different restaurants which are broadly held to be of a similar standard.
Be that as it may, while the nature of the diner's experiences is subjective, the experiences themselves are objective. We should therefore be able to get somewhere in establishing if 'the ideal gastronomy' exists and what it is.
Indeed, it could be argued that 'the ideal gastronomy' does exist and is concrete to the extent that it can be substantiated in the sum of a responsible elite's experiences.
This begs the questions, though, who are this responsible elite (Michelin? The restaurant critics?) and what is the sum of their experiences?
Posted 15 December 2004 - 09:13 AM
I suppose the answer to the question rests on how one defines "gastronomy". Merriam-Webster Online defines it so:
Main Entry: gas·tron·o·my
Etymology: French gastronomie, from Greek Gastronomeromia, title of a 4th century B.C. poem, from gastro- gastr- + -nomia -nomy
1 : the art or science of good eating
2 : culinary customs or style
- gas·tro·nom·ic /"gas-tr&-'nä-mik/ also gas·tro·nom·i·cal /-mi-k&l/ adjective
The second part of the definition is basically the study of Cuisine or culinary diversity. It is difficult to be other than relativistic regarding this. My personal attitude is that diversity is an important component, even critical and as per my following discussion ultimately effects my answer to this question.
The principle definition, "the art and science of good eating", implies that ideals can exist within gastronomy. There may very well be "ideal" ways of food preparation to achieve a desired effect and there may very well be "ideal" foods from a nutritional perspective. After all, we eat for two principle reasons.
The first is for subsistence, that is to provide our bodies with energy and nutrients. I do not believe that there is any universal ideal for all people in this regard as some people need more or less of certain elements than others and people handle various nutritional elements differently. I do believe, however, that for any given point in time an individual may, in fact, have a personal nutritional ideal that would absolutely optimize that person's physiology at that time as well as for advancement into the future. Whether that ideal can ever knowingly be met for any given individual is another story entirely.
The second reason for eating is for pleasure. Most of the posters here have opted for a relativistic approach that depend on given individual preferences and circumstances with the result that a universal "ideal" is neither possible nor relevent. Indeed there are any number of factors to effect perception in the enjoyment of a meal. What I find exquisite one day, I may not another day even though the quality of the ingredients and technical preparation may be exactly the same. Extraneous circumstances may effect my perception of enjoyment. While this may make actually reaching an ideal extremely difficult if not impossible, I am not so sure that it means that a universal ideal can not or does not exist. I have found that my perceptions have changed with time. I enjoy eating many things today that I never did (or didn't think I did) in the past. In fact just last night, I had tripe for the very first time at Babbo. It was fantastic. With changing perceptions and increasing experience it is possible to develop a finer understanding of food that includes knowledge and appreciation of ingredients, technique and the culmination of preparation. The rhetorical question becomes then, that if everyone were allowed the same possibilities for exposure to food and the ability to grow in experience over time could a gastronomic "ideal" be achieved? Obviously this is purely theoretical as this could never happen in reality. My conclusion, though is that if removing the confines of the individual nutritional ideal, the aesthetic ideal is otherwise theoretically possible, although practically impossible. The fun part is the quest for this "impossible dream", this "Holy Grail". It is fun to expand one's mind enjoying variety and skill in the pursuit of perfection, whether or not it is ever actually achieved. The intellectual component is enjoyable as well as it is a necessary ingredient of the quest, even though sometimes it can get in the way of pure hedonism.
In conclusion, I believe that the "ideal' gastronomy can theoretically exist, and that it is the culmination of the gastronomy "of every one of us".
"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.
Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life
Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder
Twitter - @docsconz
Posted 15 December 2004 - 09:37 AM
At this point, there is no ideal of gastronomy on any level, personal or otherwise. For one thing, a perfect texture must be achieved in order to not mar the rest of the perfection. Most palletes (of the layman at least, which makes up the society in question) are more familliar with textures than tastes. Give a layman a bad dish and ask what tastes wrong, and they may have some difficulty expressing it. Ask then what is wrong with the texture, and i would wager that most of them could tell you. Originally, americans looked to a big, juicy, and meaty as 'perfection.' In the 1800s, give a man the 'perfect' steak, followed by the best in today's international cousine, and he may very well abandon the steak.
I think of perfection as a center of an ascending spiral. When you have something great, the next step closer to perfection may be the total opposite. I think you have seen great success in this - like your parmesan spaghetti. As long of history as the hamburger has in america, it seems like paninis are starting to gain popularity to some extent. Soon we may see american burgers with aioli hit the mainstream.
If there is an ideal of gastronomy, i think we have already reached it, somewhere. We will not find it, however, until society's palette has progressed far enough to appreciate perfection when they taste it.
Futhermore, personal perfection can only be reached under abnormal conditions. having the 'perfect' dish twice, for example, will ruin the first experience by giving you expectations. another nearby smell that is only there once may add to the dish. pehaps its the mistique of traveling far off the beaten track or in the middle of an unforgettable vacation due to other forces. who knows?
Posted 15 December 2004 - 10:28 AM
1. Conforming to an ultimate standard of perfection or excellence
2. Existing only in the form of an idea or mental image or conception
3. Of or relating to the philosophical doctrine of the reality of ideas
In my opinion, ideal cuisine, being both subjective and relative… subjective to each person and relative to their individual knowledge, experiences and perceptions – exists primarily as the second definition – only in the form of an idea.
Since a person’s or group's “ultimate standard of excellence” is based upon the information that they have and their perception of that information at that moment – it is forever negotiable based on the information that they may acquire in the future (or a change in their perception of the information they have) and thus will change as a variable in a mathematical equation, changing the value of the answer perpetually.
The existence of ideal cuisine would then be more acceptable to most in the form of an idea, the execution of the idea and the experience of the physical manifestation of the idea would be less likely to conform to an ever shifting “ultimate standard of perfection” based on unquantifiable variables that in themselves are ever shifting second by second.
By the time you execute the idea, your existing standard has changed.
In fact the execution of the idea is often the cause of the change in the standard... this is the driving mechanism of progress.
Thank you for joining us and taking the time to answer our questions.
Edited by sizzleteeth, 15 December 2004 - 11:59 AM.
"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan
Posted 15 December 2004 - 01:08 PM
Another aspect of an ideal gastronomy, to me, would be its ability to evoke a distinct but unexpected memory, whether in its deconstruction and re-assembly, or with a flavor that, like Proust's madelline, brings forth a flood of memory, unexpectedly.
Reporter, The Trentonian
Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large
MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE
"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"
Posted 15 December 2004 - 02:05 PM
Maybe this is because I do not look for the ideal, I do not try to define it, nor indeed to find it, I just try to enjoy as much as possible the ways I have to satisfy my primal instinct which is to "eat" .. and to drink ! Sometimes, it happens to be an "experience" and the more enjoyable it is, the better, but ideal ... does not apply (for me). Sure, I try to make it enjoyable as often as possible. But that's only as far as I got...
If I may ask, what is your definition of an ideal meal ?
Posted 15 December 2004 - 02:58 PM
That is ideal gastronomy.
Posted 15 December 2004 - 03:09 PM
Jacques Pepin said to me once during an interview that the minute you write a recipe, you destroy it. At the same time, I believe that the minute you try to define the ideal, you destroy and demean it. Perhaps in the future, historians will say that the ideal gastronomy of the XXI century was that of Ferran Adria, or of Nobu Matsuhisa, depending on which history they are writing, but for now, we are trying to strive, every day, for an illusion, however tasty.
TRADUCCION AL ESPAÑOL****Durante una entrevista, Jacques Pepin me dijo que al momento de plasmar una receta en papel, se destruye. De igual manera, creo que el instante en que se intenta definir lo ideal, se destruye y degrada. Tal vez los historiadores del futuro dirán que la gastronomía ideal del XXI fue la de Adriá o la de Matsuhisa, según la historia que estén contando, pero por el momento, intentamos, cada día, de lograr una ilusión, sin importar cuán sabrosa pueda ser.
Salut, i forza al canut.
Posted 16 December 2004 - 03:59 AM
Maybe to produce the 'true' gastronomy we need to return to the beginning - ignorant of the french culinary tradition etc - but what is the likelyhood that we would end up with the same result? Would we end up with something similar to what Ferran Adria produces? Or something completely original?
They are delicious.
Posted 16 December 2004 - 05:28 AM
Does the ideal gastronomy exist or is it the gastronomy of every one of us?
Hablamos . . .
Call me a romantic, but I believe it does exist - we just haven't discovered it yet. Relativizing taste ( I read somewhere, Ferran, that you wisely made a point of never asking your diners whether they'd liked a particular offering) may be more polite, commonsensical and easier to accept by all and sundry, but it's also just a tad lazy and over-consensual - I'd say, in the case of great artists such as yourself, even slightly similar to a cop-out. I'm (and not a little!) reminded of those philistines who, despite their careless attitude to painting, insist on, whenever they fulfill their obligatory, Frommer's-based visit to a museum of contemporary art, loudly making a point of saying "I may know nothing about Art, but I know what I like.". And then proceed to select the most reactionary and least challenging pieces they chanced upon. Even more annoying is the current vogue - inexplicably followed by not a few very talented chefs - of saying "Hey, it's only food..." That "only" rankles as particularly disrespectful, ignorant and even downright ungrateful.
And yet - how can you not swoon at your first sight - however tiny and degustation-menu-sized - of the Gioconda/ Mona Lisa? Or at the first first spoonful of a freshly-made onion soup or lobster bisque, "Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá" or old-fashioned but perfectly prepared "crepes Suzette"? It's this common ground - beyond experience and subjectivity, way above all the variations and subtleties in individual and culturally-conditioned preferences - which is still unknown and exciting, giving encouragement to those courageous, curious and skilled enough to dare approach the "gastronomic ideal" you speak of. Plato's "ideal forms", after all, are tragically misunderstood and misapplied, just as "platonic", for some time now, is vulgarly taken to mean "without sex". Imagine if "Adrianesque" meant "without salt" or "without physical, gustative pleasure"...!
It's somewhere very hidden within this unexpectedly common territory, between the heathens and the far-too-arrogant experts, where the greatest riches (and, better still, gastronomic truth!) lie. Only the very brave and talented venture there. I've always imagined you as one of these - in fact, the explorer way ahead of the rest of the party, undaunted by the undergrowth, trusting in the sharpness of your eyes and machete.
The "gastronomy of every one of us" is generously and democratically inspired but the awful truth is that the world is grossly unfair and distributes its privileges blindly or, even worse, according to pure luck, money or connections. In my experience (and I was lucky to be born into a wealthy, food-loving family), most of my glimpses of "the ideal gastronomy" have no relation whatsoever to those with similar or entirely different opportunities. In fact, to be honest, they most often arose from supposedly (but materially) unprivileged, untravelled and unsophisticated bons garfos, Portuguese for, literally, "good forks", or discriminating and enthusiastic food-lovers.
I don't think you can be truly inventive and creative like you without a deep knowledge of what is simply delicious, whoever you are and how much money you have.
There are at least seven culinary preparations I can think of which, allergies and aberrations apart - and whatever their background or current status - I can't imagine anyone on earth not delighting in. The ideal gastronomy exists - we (i.e. you and a few others) just haven't conquered it yet. When it has been discovered and mastered, I dream it shall be like electricity - or, say, August-plucked white peaches impossibly made better or, to be more precise, re-appreciated and reconsidered.
No one will trouble to ask whether it's universally good, simply because it will be.
Or, at least, for long enough to seem so...
I've never had the pleasure of tasting your work (in May! In May!) but, from reading and keeping up with all available information, I could honestly say, in "the ideal gastronomy" framework, that I can't live without it. Like all great artists, philosophers and scientists, the most fertile goal of those as gifted as you are shouldn't be to "solve" or "definitively find" that holy grail (this has handicapped a majority of even the most able and clear-minded philosophers throughout the ages). Much less, though, should it be to relativize and subjectify individual efforts (i.e. the gastronomy of every one of us). Striving towards and tirelessly searching; achieving undeniably universal gastronomic pleasure (however slight) and enthusiastically contributing to the quest - even if it's seven centuries into the future - is surely more than enough...! :)[/B]
Edited by MiguelCardoso, 16 December 2004 - 09:05 AM.
Posted 16 December 2004 - 05:37 AM
"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.
"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."
Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM
Posted 16 December 2004 - 07:52 AM
I'll have what she's having.
Edited by Robert Schonfeld, 16 December 2004 - 07:54 AM.
Posted 16 December 2004 - 08:55 AM
We are already seeing a breakdown in the traditional cuisines, with international procurement of foodstuffs and chefs employing fusion techniques. I personally don't see this as a positive trend, but it is an inevitable consequence of globalization. How far this will go remains to be seen.
If a single best gastronomy were to exist, it would necessarily have to be reproducible anywhere, which implies commercial foodstuffs and possibly industrial techniques. As someone who appreciates diversity, I would not find this desireable, even if it could be shown to be best by some obective measure.
So for me, the "ideal gastronomy" does not and cannot exist.
Posted 16 December 2004 - 09:57 AM
Maybe to produce the 'true' gastronomy we need to return to the beginning - ignorant of the french culinary tradition etc[...]
That's impossible. Moreover, I would disagree with the premise that the primordial form of a thing is automatically the best, true, or only authentic form (which may not be quite what you mean). For better or/and for worse, things change over time, and all of us are in large part a product of the past, including those who, in full knowledge of the past, choose to break with it.
Have a look at my website, fluteperformer.com!