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An answer and a question

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Buenos dias, Sr. Adria:

I am glad that the "French hegemony" over Western culinary standards has been dissolved and that as a result, anyone can now experiment with influences from many world cultures. Though this does beg the question of whether people in those other cultures are doing the same thing with their indigenous cuisines. This freedom to experiment, it seems to me, is, like so many other things (materialism, some mental health problems), a byproduct of affluence, which is why I think this question is worth exploring.

However, that is not the question I want to ask of you. As a rank amateur when it comes to cooking, and a rank amateur with modest means at his disposal, I wonder whether you believe it possible to achieve "ideal" culinary experiences without the extensive experimentation/invention/design work involved in the creation of meals at establishments such as yours. There is a discussion along these lines already taking place in the General Food Topics section of eGullet; I would like to hear your opinion on the question.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Creativity in cooking is just one of the many paths that exist. You can be happy eating a simple baguette, a simple sandwich, with the best bread and the best ibérico in the world. Othe thing is the value that a professional would attach to that. That is, you have to distinguish when you speak as a diner and when you speak as a chef. There are completely different positions.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves what a gastronomic experience is, and without any doubt, we all have ours. Another thing I don’t get is this never ending question to creativity in cooking: it looks to me that it is the only field in the society where creativity is questioned. In the rest of the fields, we always ask for more investigation and R&D.

There’s something that has to be clear. There are very few restaurants, truly very few restaurants, where research cooking is done. There’s a second wave, that rely on that research and that we could call creative cooking. After this, there’s another state that is a general use of some techniques and some concepts.

Being creative is almost impossible because of its costs. It looks like having a lab is the most normal thing in the world. Our lab, elTaller where I’m right now, costs 300K€ per year. Very few restaurants could face that cost. Let’s don’t take this in a frivolous way and make things look like if they were 2,000 restaurants doing research in the world. Probably, you could count them with your hand.

That doesn’t mean that there are people with creative minds that are doing interesting things. But research is extremely expensive and we’re at the beginning of the journey.

Edited by Ferran Adrià (log)

Ferran Adrià


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