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New experiments, new directions

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I was excited to learn that you are developing some new dishes and a style that you feel will be uniquely yours. Could you give us some clues as to the kinds of experiments you are now working on, or the sorts of dishes we can anticipate at the Fat Duck?

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Hello Jd

There are quite a lot of things that we have been working on. Unfortunately, because of the lack of space in our kitchen, experimentation is extremely difficult.

A couple of years ago, I purchased a still for carrying out low temperature distillation. It is now at home in the cupboard under the stairs because there is no room for it anywhere!

As I have mentioned, we are still working on a one-mouthfull dish that delivers four flavours. These flavours however, will not be perceived together but consecutively which is something that we never normally experience. This dish will only work as one mouthfull as by the second mouthfull, the last flavours of the first mouthfull will still be there.

We are still working on the Nostalgia food idea (as explained on the web site) and I rekon that this will also lead into a potentially controversial and almost unresolvable debate. When is a chemical not a chemical?

Nostalgia foods to many people are in fact neither beef stew and dumplings nor bread and butter pudding but synthetically flavoured foods that in general were consumed as confectionary.

The question that for me begs to be answered is "when is a chemical not a chemical?"

If we smell balckcurrant in a red wine, it is not the smell of blackcurrant but a molecule or group of molecules that make up this aroma.

These are chemicals-produced naturally from the wine-making process.

Is it wrong therefore to use these chemicals in cooking?

Just a question at the moment but one that will surely stir up response and something that has been in my mind for a while now. I am not quite sure just how it will develop, but it will!

Right, back to other stuff that we are working on;

We have just started to serve an orange and beetroot jelly, served as a rectangular, terrine-like slice of jelly which is yellow-orange colour on the left and beetroot coloured on the right.

The yellow-orange colour which looks like orange is in fact made from yellow beetroot and the beetroot-looking jelly is in fact made from blood orange so the flavours expected in each colour are, in fact reversed.

It is quite a shock expecting to taste acidity in what looks like the orange jelly and instead tasting earthiness.

Other stuff that we are working on is nitrogen-poaching the sour.

We serve a palate-cleansing foam made from green tea, vodka and lime, foamed in a whipped cream cannister, as developed and popularised by Ferran Adria

I was talking with one of my chefs, Liam who suggested poaching this in nitrogen. Nitrogen is -190C and therefore very cold indeed.

By injecting a ball of mousse into this liquid, it poaches in about twenty seconds, being turned over half way through.

When eaten, the foam is frozen on the outside and nice and soft in the centre-much like a cooked meringue (but frozen).

When eaten, jets of vapour shot out of each nostril!

We have been looking at sound and just houw it affects the perception of texture.

When we crunch something like a polo mint, our teeth do not bash together. Our brain registers the crunch and turns off the signal that brings our teeth together, as needs to happen when we chew.

If we listen (through headphones) to crunching noises and chew (as is necessary with gum) at the same frequency, our brain tells our jaw to stop before it needs to (when chewing, our teeth need to come together) and therefore throws the whole perception of what the texture of the food in our mouth actually is.

We are still working on the idea of giving a dish with a set of headphones but it may be a while yet!

We are also doing a lot of work with aromas and the idea that the flavour of a dish can be changed by spraying while eating.

As well as this, I am trying to sort out a dish that gets sprayed at the table. It smells of one thing and tastes of another.

Other recent stuff that we have been looking at is injecting a raw egg through the shell with an essential oil of smoked bacon and boiling it. THe result is bacon and egg inside a boiled egg.

We are working on sucking out the yolk of a soft-boiled egg through the shell and ijecting it with a red wine sauce so you get, instead of eggs in red wine, red wine in eggs!

Injecting potato wit essential oil of butter and taking a carrot and garlic and injecting each of them witth the essential oil of the other provides very interesting results.

There is a lot more than this but I have to stop somewhere and the problem lies in how long it takes us to get a dish from experimentation to the table and also how ready a lot of the British public is for this kind of stuff.

I think at the moment not very.

We still have a problem with our meat being too pink and fish not being cooked enough and food not being piping hot!

Heston Blumenthal

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck website

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