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Products with soul


Daily Gullet Staff
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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_21200.jpg" width="324" height="285" hspace="5" align="left">Within

the family of products with soul, we include in this analysis all products that

have played a major role in El Bulli, those that have warranted special attention

or have been important in our evolution. The N2O that we blow into siphons to

obtain foams meets these criteria, except in one crucial aspect that might be

debated for hours: is air a product? There are many preparations in which air

plays an important role, even though it has never been treated as a cooking ingredient,

but the creation of foams in 1994 certainly gave it star status.

<br><br>

What

in fact characterises foams is their airy texture, their lightness, and

the fact that they have more air than traditional mousses. The mission of

the siphon is to blow air into the preparation with the help of N2O capsules

that charge this utensil. Without the magic of the siphon, without the intervention

of this gas that is not only harmless but also tasteless, foams would not

be possible. Air is an essential element for obtaining these foams for which

we feel a particular fondness, and for this reason we think that it deserves

to be included in the family of products with soul. <br>

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<td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_7110.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">Foams

arrived in 1994, but they had undergone a lengthy germination phase. The

only reason that this preparation did not come to fruition until then was

because of technical problems, as we did not know how to achieve this texture

that we dreamed about, and if we had the right tool, our dream would come

true. Early experiments were carried out in 1991-1992 in Xavier Medina Campeny’s

workshop, but after some amusing domestic disasters, the ony thing that

we knew was that gas was essential to reap success in this aspect. The appearance

of the siphon in our kitchen was to give us the solution, but even then

it was not so simple. <br>

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In 1993, our dear friend Antoni Escribà brought us back from Switzerland

a gadget that we called “the phantom siphon” because it was always getting

lost. After buying a set of CO2 capsules, we attempted to make our first

foams, but we knew nothing about gases at that time, and the foams we obtained

seemed fermented to us. Strangely enough, we went back to CO2 in 2001 for

our mojito and carrot soda. In any case, these discouraging results caused

the “phantom siphon” to be banished to the cupboard. <br>

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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_6625.jpg" hspace="5" align="left"> In the winter of 1993-1994, while we were helping our friend Eduard Roigé

to draw up the menu of the restaurant Bel-Air in Barcelona, a customer asked

for a dessert with whipped cream. To our surprise, the cream was served

in the kitchen with a gadget they took out of the fridge, from which whipped

cream emerged by pressing a lever at the top. Suddenly we saw the light,

and we reckoned that this siphon might solve the foams problem. So we borrowed

the siphon, and in a matter of just a few days, our dream became a reality.

<br>

<br>

Now, when we look back on that time, it is hard to believe how long we used

this siphon "full stop," the name we gave it to distinguish it

from the ISI siphon that came to El Bulli in 1997. The siphon “full stop”

was charged from a bulky cylinder containing N2O, and it was a sizeable

gadget which meant that ease of service from it left a lot to be desired.

Even so, for three years we were inventing foams and serving them from that

lovable monstrosity. The ridiculous thing was that when the ISI siphon arrived

in 1997, we realised it was very similar to the "phantom siphon"

that we used to charge with CO2, and that if we had used N2O instead, we

would almost certainly have adopted it instead of our siphon "full

stop".</td>

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<td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1138590929/gallery_29805_2457_7783.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">At

this stage of the game, so much has been written about foams in the gourmet

media (and even the general press) that it only remains for us to mention

the brief history of this preparation, which is a technique and a concept

at the same time. Cold foams were hatched in the El Bulli kitchen on March

19th 1994, the year the development squad project started. <br>

<br>

Since 1990 we had been nurturing the idea of achieving a lighter mousse,

in which the product’s flavour would be much more intense than in traditional

mousses. The idea came to us while we were in a specialist fruit juice bar

and we noticed the foam that formed in the top part of the glass. Between

1990 and 1993 we conducted a good many tests, some as crazy as the ones

we did in Xavier Medina Campeny’s workshop (see elBulli1983-1993), but it

was not until 1994 that we reached a satisfactory outcome. <br>

<br>

For this, the crucial moment was when the siphon came into our hands, the

utensil that enabled us to turn our dream into a reality (see The siphon

“full stop”, page 90). Our first test involved putting a consommé into the

siphon; when it came out, it had maintained its consistency, and we thought

that this was because of the natural gelatin contained in the consommé.

Therefore, if any product did not gel naturally, we could always add gelatin

leaves, something that had not occurred to us the year before during the

tests with the “phantom siphon” our friend Antoni Escribà had brought us.

<br>

<br>

And

this is what we did with a white bean purée on that fateful 19th of March

1994. The first foam served at our tables was this one, accompanied by sea

urchins. The same year we made foams out of beetroot, coriander and almonds.

These preparations began life in the savoury world, but once we discovered

their potential, their migration to sweet preparations was only a matter

of time. In 1994, we only made coconut foam, the first in a long series

that we began to prepare from the following year onwards. <br>

<br>

Foams were born with the intention of using only the juice or purée of the

product in question, without the addition of cream, eggs or other fats that

might diminish the flavour. As time went on, we began to realise that on

the one hand there was the philosophy of foams, but on the other hand we

had a marvellous gadget, the siphon, which provided us with innumerable

possibilities: creams, meringues, extremely light mousses that were easy

to prepare, and so on. Today we would probably call anything that comes

from the use of the siphon, a “foam”. <br>

<br>

Of course, foams are very well known today, and hundreds of chefs serve

them in their restaurants. It remains to be seen whether they will be so

important in twenty or thirty years’ time. As for the controversy surrounding

them, we still find it hard to understand why criticisms have been so harsh.

Current results lead us to claim, without hesitation, that there are good

foams and foams that are not so good, in the same way as there are mousses

with varying degrees of success. </td>

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<font size="-2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">This is the second part in a multi-part series. Part one is here.<br>

El Bulli books may be purchased here.<br><br>

Our thanks to Juli Soler for his invaluable assistance in this project. <br>

Copyright Ferran Adria, Juli Soler, Albert Adria ©2006. <br>

Photographs by Francesc Guillamet. <br>

Art by Dave Scantland, after a photograph by Francesc Guillamet.<br>

Introduction to part one by Pedro Espinosa.<br>

<br>

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I am intrigued by the idea of "air" as a product since it is so important in so many cooking applications aside from foams. Think of all the baking that would not be possible without the incorporation of air! I hope the IRS doesn't get wind of this. :hmmm:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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The value of this excerpt and the book(s) in general is the perspective they give to the processes, whether one appreciates them or not. There has been a lot of discussion how so many of the tools that Ferran and Co. have used are and have been used industrially for some time. While that may be true, they have been used for very different purposes and with very different results. The act of creativity always involves using old things to come up with new ones. Ferran's opus is no exception.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"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

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. . . . .

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this book being published in English...

The book is already available in English: elBulli Books

In order to determine which books are available in which languages one must click on "Comprar". This will bring you to another window that has each book listed by language.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"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

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It's not, joesan, though you can't buy it directly from elBulli book's site if you live in the States or Canada. As docsconz wrote, if you follow the "Comprar" link it'll get you to a different page where you can see the available languages for El Bulli 1994-1997.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Pedro - thanks for the heads up. Your web skills are better than mine - I didn't scroll down!

Am off to Books for Cooks (in London) tomorrow to see if they have it in stock. What an unexpected treat.

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The value of this excerpt and the book(s) in general is the perspective they give to the processes, whether one appreciates them or not. There has been a lot of discussion how so many of the tools that Ferran and Co. have used are  and have been used industrially for some time. While that may be true, they have been used for very different purposes and with very different results. The act of creativity always involves using old things to come up with new ones. Ferran's opus is no exception.

Couldn't agree more...

Sizzleteeth where are you?  :wink:

Actually, gentlemen - if you'll go back and read my comments in the first excerpt - I agree with both of you, nor do I not appreciate the processes - in fact quite the opposite - though I would say "Dippin' Dots", "Orbitz Soda", and the like don't fall far from the tree and some chefs have even referenced things like this in discussions of their work.

The discussion was about attitudes, credit where credit is due and attempts to take individual credit for things in which credit belongs to many.

The work, admiration for the work, interest in the product of the work and the processes which made the work possible were never an issue.

To make use of an old cliche for a new purpose - I merely "pointed out the elephant in the room" - I didn't put it there, nor was I the first person to point at it.

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"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

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It's not, joesan, though you can't buy it directly from elBulli book's site if you live in the States or Canada. As docsconz wrote, if you follow the "Comprar" link it'll get you to a different page where you can see the available languages for El Bulli 1994-1997.

Any idea when you will be able to get this in the USA?

:huh:

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It's not, joesan, though you can't buy it directly from elBulli book's site if you live in the States or Canada. As docsconz wrote, if you follow the "Comprar" link it'll get you to a different page where you can see the available languages for El Bulli 1994-1997.

Any idea when you will be able to get this in the USA?

:huh:

Try these guys...they might have it

Kitchen Arts and Letters

Arley Sasson

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