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The New and the Old Catalan Cuisine


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:30 PM

Chef Andres, I've just returned from ten days in Barcelona, and while I may be spouting the tourist council line, the joie de vivre that suffuses the culinary community seems remarkable to this Yankee. In particular, having been edified by Robert Hughes's Barcelona and Colman Andrew's Catalan Cuisine, both of which stress this theme, I was fascinated by the melange of ancient and avant garde that characterizes the food scene there.

My time there makes me think that the "new Catalan cuisine" is grounded in a centuries-old reverence for good food, prepared well, and shared in the spirit of camaraderie -- a fundamental point that the US food media, with its fetishization of hypermodern technology and technique, doesn't seem to get. Enjoying my dinner at Hisop, munching on Escriba and Rovira treats, and just walking through the city, I found new and old stuck together inseparably. Here's one moment: ten minutes after overhearing Albert Asim, the chef at Bar Pinotxo, waxing ebullient about his most recent meal at El Bulli while plating some transcendent garbanzos with sofregit, I walked by a restaurant display window from which Adria's mug beamed above his messy snail bib.

Reading this Spotlight Conversation (and remembering the alarmingly good and unpretentious kibbeh I enjoyed at Zantinya last fall), I'm wondering how the old Catalan cuisine informs or influences your own very new cooking.

Thanks in advance.
Chris Amirault
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#2 Jose Andres

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 01:25 PM

Chef Andres, I've just returned from ten days in Barcelona, and while I may be spouting the tourist council line, the joie de vivre that suffuses the culinary community seems remarkable to this Yankee. In particular, having been edified by Robert Hughes's Barcelona and Colman Andrew's Catalan Cuisine, both of which stress this theme, I was fascinated by the melange of ancient and avant garde that characterizes the food scene there.

My time there makes me think that the "new Catalan cuisine" is grounded in a centuries-old reverence for good food, prepared well, and shared in the spirit of camaraderie -- a fundamental point that the US food media, with its fetishization of hypermodern technology and technique, doesn't seem to get. Enjoying my dinner at Hisop, munching on Escriba and Rovira treats, and just walking through the city, I found new and old stuck together inseparably. Here's one moment: ten minutes after overhearing Albert Asim, the chef at Bar Pinotxo, waxing ebullient about his most recent meal at El Bulli while plating some transcendent garbanzos with sofregit, I walked by a restaurant display window from which Adria's mug beamed above his messy snail bib.

Reading this Spotlight Conversation (and remembering the alarmingly good and unpretentious kibbeh I enjoyed at Zantinya last fall), I'm wondering how the old Catalan cuisine informs or influences your own very new cooking.

Thanks in advance.

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I believe tradition coooking has a lot to say and yu see this in barcelona. Tradition gives you a place to start, a language, a context for the modern........what is modern? Someone had to fry the first egg people maybe thought it was weird but look at us now........If you don't know tradicional ajoblanco how can you possibly understand what Dani Garcia does wiht nitrogen? Or what Ferran does with chicken curry? Or what I did to clam chowder or philly cheesesteak.......we need to know and respect tradition........Also my tradition is not necessarily your tradition, what is normal to me nothing special is WAO to you what is this? you might say......what i think people in Spain relize is not about choosing one or the other, there is place for both tradition and modernity....variety.......To me there is nothing better than carn d'olla or pa amb tomaquet sometimes it cotton candy foie gras I am sure many think like me

#3 docsconz

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 04:26 PM

Chef Andres, I've just returned from ten days in Barcelona, and while I may be spouting the tourist council line, the joie de vivre that suffuses the culinary community seems remarkable to this Yankee. In particular, having been edified by Robert Hughes's Barcelona and Colman Andrew's Catalan Cuisine, both of which stress this theme, I was fascinated by the melange of ancient and avant garde that characterizes the food scene there.

My time there makes me think that the "new Catalan cuisine" is grounded in a centuries-old reverence for good food, prepared well, and shared in the spirit of camaraderie -- a fundamental point that the US food media, with its fetishization of hypermodern technology and technique, doesn't seem to get. Enjoying my dinner at Hisop, munching on Escriba and Rovira treats, and just walking through the city, I found new and old stuck together inseparably. Here's one moment: ten minutes after overhearing Albert Asim, the chef at Bar Pinotxo, waxing ebullient about his most recent meal at El Bulli while plating some transcendent garbanzos with sofregit, I walked by a restaurant display window from which Adria's mug beamed above his messy snail bib.

Reading this Spotlight Conversation (and remembering the alarmingly good and unpretentious kibbeh I enjoyed at Zantinya last fall), I'm wondering how the old Catalan cuisine informs or influences your own very new cooking.

Thanks in advance.

View Post



I believe tradition coooking has a lot to say and yu see this in barcelona. Tradition gives you a place to start, a language, a context for the modern........what is modern? Someone had to fry the first egg people maybe thought it was weird but look at us now........If you don't know tradicional ajoblanco how can you possibly understand what Dani Garcia does wiht nitrogen? Or what Ferran does with chicken curry? Or what I did to clam chowder or philly cheesesteak.......we need to know and respect tradition........Also my tradition is not necessarily your tradition, what is normal to me nothing special is WAO to you what is this? you might say......what i think people in Spain relize is not about choosing one or the other, there is place for both tradition and modernity....variety.......To me there is nothing better than carn d'olla or pa amb tomaquet sometimes it cotton candy foie gras I am sure many think like me

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Jose, I think along the same lines. I love traditional cuisines, but I also love creativity in cuisine. I don't understand people who can only exist with one or the other. One of the culinary elements I love so much about Spain, is that the traditional and the new do live so well together side by side. Your restaurants in Washington are the embodiment of that ideal in the United States, running the gamut from traditional cuisines to some of the most creative food on the planet. Having been to Italy and having caught the Slow Food fever there, I was surprised to discover that therre is not much of a presence of that organization in Spain. Given that Spain has such a strong presence of its traditional cooking and ingredients and that the modern is very much aware of its debt to tradition, do you have any insight into why that organization has not become more prominent in Spain or am I wrong about its prominence? Are there other Spanish organizations promoting sustainability, biodiversity and traditional methods?
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#4 Jose Andres

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 10:12 PM

Chef Andres, I've just returned from ten days in Barcelona, and while I may be spouting the tourist council line, the joie de vivre that suffuses the culinary community seems remarkable to this Yankee. In particular, having been edified by Robert Hughes's Barcelona and Colman Andrew's Catalan Cuisine, both of which stress this theme, I was fascinated by the melange of ancient and avant garde that characterizes the food scene there.

My time there makes me think that the "new Catalan cuisine" is grounded in a centuries-old reverence for good food, prepared well, and shared in the spirit of camaraderie -- a fundamental point that the US food media, with its fetishization of hypermodern technology and technique, doesn't seem to get. Enjoying my dinner at Hisop, munching on Escriba and Rovira treats, and just walking through the city, I found new and old stuck together inseparably. Here's one moment: ten minutes after overhearing Albert Asim, the chef at Bar Pinotxo, waxing ebullient about his most recent meal at El Bulli while plating some transcendent garbanzos with sofregit, I walked by a restaurant display window from which Adria's mug beamed above his messy snail bib.

Reading this Spotlight Conversation (and remembering the alarmingly good and unpretentious kibbeh I enjoyed at Zantinya last fall), I'm wondering how the old Catalan cuisine informs or influences your own very new cooking.

Thanks in advance.

View Post

Well when I was 5 years old my family arrive to BArcelona. My father will take me to La Boqueria market on Saturdays when I was 6......By 14 I will go on my own early every morning...........I grow up there, and CAtalonia, thanks to its proximity to France, has some of the most interesting cooking anywhere in the world.......Why Picasso, Why Miro, Why Dali, Why Gaudi....Why Adria?....Probably because all the things you describe my friend...Amazing