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Everything posted by Zoticus

  1. You're right, way off base. It's this he uses: Volcano Vaporizer More usually seen in the coffee-shops of Amsterdam, seriously!
  2. That's a shame... as well as being a bare assertion. As a reader I feel the same about writers who are sufferingly deferential to their subjects.
  3. This is what is meant by betting on hindsight to bear one out. Despite our suspicions neither of us is in a position to claim that history will support our opinions. For this reason I prefer to focus on the present. In this respect there are some major problems with the gastronomic avant-gardism: -Too many people are say that it often doesn't taste good. -That its exponents devote significant effort into producing 'manifestos' and 'diktats' that set out a criteria by which their output must be evaluated. -That it is an approach to food that is purely instrumental in that its wackiness provides key access to business opportunities that are only marginally connected with gastronomy. -That it fails to treat food as having an intrinsic value as and of itself; i.e. raw materials, seasonality etc. -That its exponents seem to wish to raise their status above that which is traditionally accorded to a chef; i.e. scientists, philosophers, gurus, which suggests, paradoxically, that they aren't particularly comfortable with cooking as a professional endeavour. -That it places a value on manipulation for its own sake, which in turn focusses value on the manipulator (chef) at the expense of the raw material (Heston Blumenthal is hailed as genius because he can make a sausage taste as if it has been cooked on bonfire without having cooked it on a bonfire!). -That despite its pseudo-intellectual window dressing it is essentially an anti-intellectual approach: Adria, et al actively discourage diners to exercise their critical faculties by relentlessly publicizing theories and approaches that usurp such reflection. I am not saying that there is no good in the culinary avant garde or that no good will eventually come of it, but rather that as an approach to cooking it robs the diner of any control over the process. It is no surprise that the culinary avant-garde basically excludes the French, since its major players clearly realized that weren't in a position to compete effectively with France and therefore changed the rules in order to raise their weakness to become strengths and call it post-modernism.
  4. Closed minds. ← ... or reactionaries, or conservatives or some other formulation of 'not getting it'. But without resorting to insult, the polemic raised by the gastronomic avant garde is not so easily explained away. My own feeling is that chefs like Adria and Blumenthal have outmaneuvered the established authorities and that diners are predisposed to enthuse about their food given the prestige conferred upon them by scoring a table, but that also they are bombarded with psuedo-scientific reasons why they should enjoy such food. The privilege of critiquing their own work is unprecedented in any creative endeavour and one should raise the suspicions of anyone trained to be critically minded about such things. Despite its obvious privileges the fact that the culinary avant garde still remains to many a dubious movement suggests that the burden of its defence lies with its defenders and not with its critics. So I say to you, if Adria et al are producing such good food, why is it that so many rational and informed individuals say they are not?
  5. Rather betting on hindsight to prove one right or wrong, perhaps one should fall back on a pragmatic approach. I've never heard anyone say that Alain Chapel was a shyster, but people seem to be split about the culinary avant garde. The simplest explanation of this phenomena is that the avant garde are indeed phonies; their best explanation is that that they're half crap. Geniuses arrive on the scene sporadically, and when there aren't any around a hungry media raises whoever is at hand to genius status. I would argue that we are going through a dry patch in terms of gastronomy, and the heroes of the avant-garde are mere substitutes for what most of know is possible. Otherwise, how does one explain away the sceptics?
  6. I find Adria, et al worryingly determined to hijack the definitions of what is good about food. Heston Blumenthal for example virtually gave up cooking five years ago, preferring instead to devote his time to formulating rationales as to why everything he does is perfect. This trend essentially ousts the evaluative role of anyone but the most dedicated professional critic, and leaves the diner with a stark choice between accepting the theoretical defences proffered by the chefs or leaving altogether. Modern gastronomy of the Adria school is neither held up to sufficiently rigourous examination by those that purport to be gastronomy's authorities nor plays by the rules of the scientific method it claims to incorporate. My own feeling is that the doubts raised by modern gastronomy are sufficient evidence for its being little more than stroke of marketing genius, since one cannot talk of scientific proofs on the one hand whilst at the same time reject the significant body of evidence that calls these proofs into question. The greatest task facing chefs at the moment is that of defining themselves as either working within a tradition or as pioneers striking out into the provision of multi-sensory entertainment. It is wrong to judge either group by the standards of the other, but it is equally wrong for either group to invoke the standards of the other as and when it is convenient to them. Regarding this I cite the recent rejection of Molecular Gastronomy by Trotter, Adria and Blumenthal in favour of claiming to be strong traditionalists. Blumenthal has perhaps benefitted more than anyone from an association with this label, so it comes as a surprise that he should be telling us that we've had it wrong all these years. The fact that not one critic has commented on this rather discourteous window-dressing just goes to show how much top-line chefs have things their own way at the moment, not mention the clear side-swiping that this manifesto makes towards anyone unfortunate enough not be included in this critically untouchable triumvirate. I just hope that a new generation of chefs, more mindful of pleasing their clients, grows up fast enough to usurp these peacocks of the kitchen before it's too late and gastronomy becomes merely a platform for the generation of vogue media personae.
  7. For using the term 'bespoke' on a menu, he deserves to lose the star he already has.
  8. Given that this is the UK and Ireland thread, it's perhaps not *that* surprising that people are talking about meals in London.... I'm sure there'll be a thread somewhere on the site for people who want to catalogue their travels/restaurants outside of the UK. ← I shan't be responding to this directly since your comments are aimed at a straw man of your own creation. If you're looking for a scrap I'm sure you could provoke one far more easily somewhere else.
  9. None whatsoever, of course. Nevertheless, relatively speaking, it is far more surprising that new London operations are cited as best restaurants of the year than it is surprising that someone should have had a meal of the year in an iconic three star such as Bocuse. Indeed, it's only not surprising if one factors in the 'buzz' of novelty, which at any rate is strictly superficial, hence the 'fashionable' comment.
  10. I'm more surprised that places like Arbutus, and the Bacchus are on people's lists. Does being new somehow make the food better?
  11. Unless fashionable eating is a priority, there's nothing at all wrong with Paul Bocuse.
  12. I don't think so, I come from a long line of commoners
  13. There's complex and there's complex. The level of complexity in Heston's book is supposed to be almost impossible to attempt because if punters were able to follow the recipes easily then it would undermine Heston's status as genius. Once again Heston is challenging our preconceptions, this time about recipe books, which in his hands are no longer a blueprint for the home cook, but a testament to the extraordinary lengths he goes to in order to make even the most mundane of dishes incredibly difficult to produce. One is not supposed to follow Heston's recipes, one is supposed to be intimidated by them.
  14. It has been variously described, depending on how closely the speaker's involvement with it is. These descriptions range from "technique" to sinister cult.
  15. That's a rather reductive way of describing NLP and puts Heston in rather a bad light in my opinion. If your interested, there's more info about the subject here. ← Thanks for the link, begs the question though since it's only likely to convince someone already predisposed to believe in that kind of stuff. Rather like citing the Bible as evidence for the existence of God.
  16. Well that's that over then. For me the series staled rapidly as it went on. To be honest, I expected it to be much better than it was. A niggling doubt was raised in the first episode when Heston went to all that trouble to get the 'bonfire' flavour to his bangers. I couldn't help wondering why smoking pork fat and making toast infusion was preferable to actually cooking the bangers on a open fire. On his website Heston says: This suggests that his bangers are not better because they taste better but because prior knowledge of the process contributes positively to the diner's experience of eating them. In other words, by manipulating what the diner knows about the dish they are eating one can control to some degree how the diner will react to it. The problem is then, how to distinguish between when Heston is using genuine culinary know-how to practical ends and when he is simply bigging up his product (and himself) by making it sound complex and interesting. Heston is a long term adept of NLP, from where, I suppose, this sophisticated element of self publicity is drawn. But, I do feel that NLP sits uncomfortably with the science stuff, since NLP is about getting the upper hand, whereas science is about truth. Regarding the food, as long as people continue to believe that Heston has access to the ultimate reality in which dwell the Platonic forms of gastronomy then his food will continue to taste perfect.
  17. As Heston always says eating is a multi sensory experience. In fact he's built his reputation on it. So presumably he would acknowledge that although there might be no difference in the food whether he's there or not, the fact that he's there or not feeds into the dining experience. Heston must be well aware that simply by making his presence known to the diners he can positively alter their experience.
  18. You make it sound like hestons success was only possible by appealling to punters who are offended by GRs personality. But what does the personality of a chef have to do with the food? I thinks its important that Heston is in the kitchen, and I'm sure that the experience would be 13% better if each dish had been indvidually cherished by Heston himself.
  19. Hi gang! Now although I don't think its funny Heston is now the subject of a joke which at least means that he is a household name. How many molecular gastronomers does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but the process spans four continents, involves consultation with the most eminent scientists of the day, is the subject of a lavishly illustrated hardback and requires a production team to film two one hour Christmas specials for BBC2.
  20. He reminds me of Chuck Norris, only sexier, and without hair or a beard.
  21. I normally roast them. All I'm saying, and I'm not criticising, is that I'm not sure His chips are perfect. Lots of people I know like chip shop chips which are different, and not huge crunchy chips that cost 50p each. I don't think Heston has taken the widespread love of chips into account and really His chips are just the way He thinks chips should be. In fact if a chippie in Middlesborough started serving Heston chips he'd probably go out of business quite fast.
  22. Amazing isn't it? It's almost like there's some kind of viral campaign. Keep wishing, Zotty. You might get a pony for Christmas ← I don't understand this. Anyway I think it's great that Heston's down with the kids, although I'm not surprised because Heston Blumenthal:In search of Perfection is a bit like Blue Peter (but not the episodes with John Leslie obviously)
  23. I've never liked Heston's chips, they're sort of chip shaped roast potatoes, but then that's just me and what do I know. I must admit that I am a little sad knowing that this remarkable TV milestone is more than half way through, but something I saw this morning cheered me up. I must admit to thinking that Heston was missing something, and before Timmy chimes in it wasn't charisma, no, I felt he was missing a catchphrase, something uniquely Heston. Well, whadda ya know! I've just heard some youngsters imploring each other to " Look at the chocolate! Look at the chocolate!" like in the opening sequence.
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