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Madrid Fusión 2007, Jan 15-18


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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.

Edited by Zoticus (log)
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My whole point is that the concept of being ingredient driven and avant-garde (or whatever term one wishes to use) are not mutually exclusive

These two become mutually exclusive when ingredients have been manipulated too much and /or their qualities have been masked.

Given that as per Milla above that it requires great ingredients to make a great dish (i.e. a great dish cannot be made without great ingredients) then if one encounters a great dish it must have been made with great ingredients. If one then assumes that there are great dishes within the realm of avant-garde cooking then it follows that great ingredients must have been used for those dishes.

It is debatable and a matter of subjective opinion as to whether great dishes have arisen from the realm of avant-garde cooking. It is my subjective opinion that they have and that indeed they have at elBulli. The espardenyes, the snails, the crab and the olive spherifications were examples of some great dishes that I had that I felt incorporated the greatness of their primary ingredients and indeed the supporting ingredients. In other cases at elBulli and elsewhere, the great ingredients may have been used otherwise than to focus on their essential nature, but that doesn't mean that the essential nature of those ingredients did not contribute significantly to the final dish. It is this latter point where we have a fundamental disagreement. we both agree on the ingredient-driven element of a restaurant such as Rafa's, but we disagree that a highly manipulated cuisine can still be ingredient driven.

Depending upon the effects that a chef wishes to achieve a particular ingredient may be superior to another. For example there is one particular pasta dish that is simply better (to me) with canned peas even though I prefer ultra-fresh for practically any other use. Of course some canned peas are better than others.

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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Given that as per Milla above that it requires great ingredients to make a great dish (i.e. a great dish cannot be made without great ingredients) then if one encounters a great dish it must have been made with great ingredients. If one then assumes that there are great dishes within the realm of avant-garde cooking then it follows that great ingredients must have been used for those dishes.

If one encounters a "great" dish and upon research and some digging one does not find great ingredients then one would be wrong that it is a great dish. Reverse logic. It would merely be a dish that one individual enjoyed.

the way to approach it is if there are great ingredients then the possibility of having a great dish exists. Nothing more.

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yes and yes on the two previous posts. (zoticus and vmilor)

as an aside, the new review on Gastroville about Ledoyen touch on the issues just being discussed.

Excellent review that certainly whets my appetite to dine at Ledoyen. What I don't see is the need to make everything so either/or or black/white. Both extremes of cooking and the in-between have their positive elements. I am not here to criticize the traditional cooking "ingredient driven" restaurants, which I also appreciate very much. I do have a hard time with absolutism though. For whatever reason many traditionalists such as Santi Santamaria and others who have posted here attack Ferran Adria and his cooking. He on the other hand remains duly respectful of tradition even as he creates new traditions. At the end of the day it is all still food to be enjoyed and there are many ways to enjoy it.

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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Given that as per Milla above that it requires great ingredients to make a great dish (i.e. a great dish cannot be made without great ingredients) then if one encounters a great dish it must have been made with great ingredients. If one then assumes that there are great dishes within the realm of avant-garde cooking then it follows that great ingredients must have been used for those dishes.

If one encounters a "great" dish and upon research and some digging one does not find great ingredients then one would be wrong that it is a great dish. Reverse logic. It would merely be a dish that one individual enjoyed.

the way to approach it is if there are great ingredients then the possibility of having a great dish exists. Nothing more.

I was simply following the logic that you applied upthread when you said that it was not possible to have a great dish with inferior ingredients. You are certainly correct that great ingredients do not guarantee a great dish. That also requires great technique and great conception. The bottom line is that a great dish is a great dish even if it could possibly be improved with better ingredients. What is the ultimate goal if not the enjoyment of the diner?

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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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?

Edited by Zoticus (log)
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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 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?

Closed minds. :smile:

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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Otherwise, how does one explain away the sceptics?

Closed minds. :smile:

... 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?

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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 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?

Closed minds. :smile:

or more experienced and well versed palates.

Those who have visited restaurants over time and can create informed opinions over a lengthy time frame. a one time visit to a haute cuisine restaurant is merely a snapshot in a humanistic endeavor that evolves and matures. the opinions that matter most are those that have been around the block and have shown they have open minds. One calibrates from there.

Edited by milla (log)
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Otherwise, how does one explain away the sceptics?

Closed minds. :smile:

... 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?

Not meant to be insulting, but I do think that so much has to do with attitudes and approaches to life not that I would or could define what they are. I do think that you have greatly oversimplified your argument. First, rational, intelligent and educated people can and do disagree about many things. This is no different than any other area. The impressionist art movement in France was initially treated the same way, but now is the epitome of conservative taste. That "many" still consider vanguard cooking a "dubious" movement doesn't surprise me. Many of those who do, though certainly not all, are very set in their world views or have their own particular agendas. To others it is simply not to their taste or style. That is fine. There is nothing wrong with that. What I don't get is the insistent need to denigrate the movement by some.

As for being enamored because of the "prestige of scoring a table," I can't speak for others, but I have been disappointed by many a "prestigious" restaurant from either stylistic bent despite initial excitement at dining there. As for continuing to defend the vanguard, I will stop here for now. It is clear that we will not sway each others point of view and we are in danger of running in circles. I am quite content that I can enjoy an excellent restaurant whatever its label.

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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... 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.

Quite true. It is indeed hard not to be insulting.

Not meant to be insulting, but I do think that so much has to do with attitudes and approaches to life not that I would or could define what they are. I do think that you have greatly oversimplified your argument. First, rational, intelligent and educated people can and do disagree about many things. This is no different than any other area. The impressionist art movement in France was initially treated the same way, but now is the epitome of conservative taste. That "many" still consider vanguard cooking a "dubious" movement doesn't surprise me. Many of those who do, though certainly not all, are very set in their world views or have their own particular agendas. To others it is simply not to their taste or style. That is fine. There is nothing wrong with that. What I don't get is the insistent need to denigrate the movement by some.

The problem lies not in that there may be different views. The differing views are really only interesting if the discussion is held among sufficiently informed and knowledgeable people. The parallels to art are of little interest as long as no one can make the case of why food is art. But even if it was or actually wasn't, the vast majority of people who have been part of hyping not only el bulli but some of the others of the Spanish avant-garde chefs and places like the Fat Duck, simply don’t know what they are talking about. An unprecedented and fake pseudo-intellectual approach to food reviewing has been used to justify or even in some cases certify the greatness of this kind of cooking. It is often based on that a chef makes the reviewer see food in a new light. To me this is complete bollocks. The problem and insulting part, as I understand Zoticus and agree with, is that in order to join the discussion with some level of credibility you have to have been exposed for probably a few decades to great raw materials and have an understanding of them and have visited a large number of great restaurants on multiple occasions over a long period of time. I have only met a few people with the required experience who defend Adria’s current work and the approach most of them make is not that it is great food but it is great from another point of view, namely as food research. I disagree even on this point, but my reasoning would be much too insulting so I will refrain from posting it here.

Can a great dish be created with not great raw materials? I think it can but I have to admit I have not yet seen it. For me the use of an inferior produce always taints the end result too much for it to be enjoyable. The examples of dishes at el bulli referred to by docsconz are from my point of view interesting at best rather than great and it is to me a conclusion that is hard not to make.

I disagree with Milla that if an ingredient is to be completely transformed, there is no use to use a top-noth ingredient. I think it is and the parallel one can make is to that of wine-making. Nobody can make a great wine without great raw material.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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I disagree with Milla that if an ingredient is to be completely transformed, there is no use to use a top-notch ingredient.

Did i say this? it is not what i meant.

Nobody can make a great wine without great raw material.

This is essentially what i was saying.

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The old argument comes up again. Adrià's latest work can be criticized on many accounts. The use of poor quality ingredients is not one of them. Not even the lacking of luxury ingredients, if the barnacles and caviar dish we had last summer serves as an evidence --admittedly, I'm not the world greatest expert in caviar.

An intrinsic component of avant-garde movements in any field is precisely the dynamics we see with avant-garde cuisine: people mainly divide in two groups that consider the avant-garde practitioners either a joke or complete geniuses 100% of the time no matter what they do. I fancy myself of pertaining to a small third group which analyzes matters with some more detachment. But I may be wrong. :wink:

Another issue that also tends to come up again and again is that the whole avant-garde movement, if we group under that label people like Aduriz and Roca to name just two examples, suddenly gets subject to the same arguments that are applied to Adrià by some sort of inference process that eludes me. Even if as a working hypothesis we conclude that Adrià is a total joke --which is not, EMHO--, I don't see why this should also invalidate what other chefs are doing.

Of course, if what you're saying is that only a small group of experts are in possession of the ability to discern good from evil and that you, vmilor and degusto, are members of that select group and the rest of us are not, well, that's a different story altogether.

Edited by pedro (log)

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Another issue that also tends to come up again and again is that the whole avant-garde movement, if we group under that label people like Aduriz and Roca to name just two examples, suddenly gets subject to the same arguments that are applied to Adrià by some sort of inference process that eludes me. Even if as a working hypothesis we conclude that Adrià is a total joke --which is not, EMHO--, I don't see why this should also invalidate what other chefs are doing.

Roca and Aduriz got very strong reviews in gastroville. Actually Roca was compared and contrasted against Adria. I can only speak for myself but I have one sole aim when I eat out: PLEASURE. I would like to rave about every single meal I have and praise all chefs. It does not matter under which label they categorize themselves or the public categorizes them.

I was a bit disappointed with my last meal at Can Roca though---but still I hold Roca brothers at very high regard.

My major disagreement is that I don't think cooking is an art form. It is a wrong analogy to compare chefs with major schools in the development of Western painting. This is not to say that great chefs should be less esteemed than great artists. One can not compare apples and oranges.

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Of course, if what you're saying is that only a small group of experts are in possession of the ability to discern good from evil and that you, vmilor and degusto, are members of that select group and the rest of us are not, well, that's a different story altogether.

I don't think anybody said such a thing Pedro. As a rule of thumb, I believe that, if one wants to undermine somebody, one should exaggerate about his/her abilities and then the rest will unfold....the person in question will look unpleasant to his/her supporters, his foes will be mobilized and his friends will be alienated. It works in business and politics and this is a good way to poke at inflated egos who believe everybody else is stupid. They end up getting isolated.

On the other hand, it is true that, given one's background or taste, he/she can give more weight to the words and judgments of some people more than others. For instance, when signor Espinosa shifts out of his diplomatic gear and actually makes a statement about a restaurant in Spain(in his characteristic euphemistic, understated way) I always listen, or ignore at my peril :biggrin:

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My major disagreement is that I don't think cooking is an art form.  It is a wrong analogy to compare chefs with major schools in the development of Western painting.  This is not to say that great chefs should be less esteemed than great artists. One can not compare apples and oranges.

I believe that you missed the point of my analogy entirely. It doesn't matter whether you , me or anyone else considers cooking to be an art form, The point was that I laid out an example of something that was roundly rejected by the "experts" of the time that subsequently came to be considered as the epitome of painting by many and ironically is still held to be such by many of a conservative bent. The parallels are interesting.

I will not continue this particular arm of the discussion further. I believe that taste is a subjective element. The value of newspaper food journalism, sites like eGullet and blogs like Gastroville is that with enough content and experience one can gauge the value of opinions of others and correlate them to one's own for better or worse. Vedat and milla, I value your opinions, even if I don't fully share all of them. That you don't fully share mine is also clear. One thing we definitely have in common is a passion for food.

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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First, rational, intelligent and educated people can and do disagree about many things. This is no different than any other area. The impressionist art movement in France was initially treated the same way, but now is the epitome of conservative taste.

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.

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Of course, if what you're saying is that only a small group of experts are in possession of the ability to discern good from evil and that you, vmilor and degusto, are members of that select group and the rest of us are not, well, that's a different story altogether.

No, it is not what we are saying. What is clear though is that some of the so called experts that have claimed for instance the Fat Duck to be the best restaurant in the world hardly have the qualification to make the call. If we would make a parallel to wine critics it would be like accepting that someone is an important authority on Bordeaux wines after having only tasted a dozen classed growths, each on one or a few occasions without really having any knowledge of the grape varieties used by each producer. It is not food criticism to be taken seriously. It is marketing, admittedly very successful.

Pedro, I know you had (many) non-pedestrian ingredients and possibly some stunning ones at el bulli last summer. I did not. The meal I had there could be criticised from a large number of reasons, pedestrian and/or average quality ingredients being one.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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Of course, if what you're saying is that only a small group of experts are in possession of the ability to discern good from evil and that you, vmilor and degusto, are members of that select group and the rest of us are not, well, that's a different story altogether.

No, it is not what we are saying. What is clear though is that some of the so called experts that have claimed for instance the Fat Duck to be the best restaurant in the world hardly have the qualification to make the call. If we would make a parallel to wine critics it would be like accepting that someone is an important authority on Bordeaux wines after having only tasted a dozen classed growths, each on one or a few occasions without really having any knowledge of the grape varieties used by each producer. It is not food criticism to be taken seriously. It is marketing, admittedly very successful.

Pedro, I know you had (many) non-pedestrian ingredients and possibly some stunning ones at el bulli last summer. I did not. The meal I had there could be criticised from a large number of reasons, pedestrian and/or average quality ingredients being one.

I agree that any individual labeling anything as "the best in the world" is engaging in unsupportable hyperbole no matter their experience. It is more reasonable, however, for people to consider and call something "the best" within their experience and according to specific criteria. It may be even more reasonable to avoid labeling any restaurant as "the best" on even a personal scale as any individual's experience(s) are snapshot(s) in time of a fluid medium. That possibility of change over time allows nothing more than a comparison of specific experiences at varying times. As such I prefer compare and occasionally rank my specific restaurant experiences over time similar to what you do at Gastroville. These specific snapshots in time do contribute to my list of what I consider "favorite" restaurants to which I wish to return for additional experiences. Note that by considering a restaurant a "favorite' doesn't mean that it is necessarily the "best". Alinea has provided me with a collection of some of the finest meals that I have had and as a result is currently my favorite restaurant in the US. If I were to return tomorrow it may or may not live up to my previous experiences and expectations. It may even exceed them. While it is my current favorite and I have dined fairly extensively throughout the US, there certainly are plenty of worthy restaurants that I have yet to experience that could potentially supplant it. By the same token, I have had but one meal so far at El Bulli. To date it was the most outstanding meal of my experience and as such has placed itself as my favorite restaurant in the world. Is it the best? I certainly wouldn't presume to make that claim. From that one experience though I am attuned to the potential that restaurant has to offer to me on any given night. Whether subsequent experiences can match, exceed or fall short is yet to be determined. No matter what happens though that one experience will always be one of the culinary, no one of the highlights of my life even if it should someday be supplanted by another culinary experience as "my favorite." If anyone really cares enough to see what made it so special to me they can find my report in the topic in the Spain forum.

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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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?

I see so many wrong things with the statement above, I hardly know where to begin. So maybe I won't begin. This specific post opened a huge can of worms and suddenly this specific topic - the 2007 edition of the Madrid Fusión - has veered off topic.

Shouldn't this discussion of whether Ferran, Heston et al. deserve all their accolades or whether they've been "raised to genius status by a hungry media with nobody better to praise", doesn't this argument belong somewhere else?

By the way, Zoticus, keep in mind that long before it was hard to book a table at El Bulli or at TFD these two guys were wowing customers with their tasty and innovative food. The high praise from the media came YEARS later. I can tell you that in Heston's case, it only became tough to book a table at TFD after he won the Best Restaurant in the World award from Restaurant Magazine, in 2005. I speak from experience.

To say you've oversimplified the whole debate is an understatement.

Sure, some people dislike their cooking. There isn't one restaurant in the world that can please all tastes. There will always be diners that don't like this or that, and that's normal.

And as a food writer myself, I find it very tiring and insulting when perceived evils of the (food) world are blamed on "the media", or, as you call it, "the hungry media".

Now... with that off my chest, back to the Madrid Fusion.

I've read things that I found very hard to understand:

- How did Seiji Yamamoto (Ryugin, Tokyo) "stamp" a bar code on a sauce?? I know he

used squid ink, but still... And how did he "read" this bar code, which apparently

contained the

list of ingredients used in the sauce? Puzzling.

- I understand Arzak (who referred to himself as the old rocker of cooking)

extracted vapors from herbs and called this a "volcano of aromas".

How did he inject this volcano eruption into the meats?

- How did Heston reproduce the aroma from a candyshop? And what

was the purpose of the candies he gave out to the crowd?

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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I see so many wrong things with the statement above, I hardly know where to begin. So maybe I won't begin.

That's a shame... as well as being a bare assertion.

And as a food writer myself, I find it very tiring and insulting when perceived evils of the (food) world are blamed on "the media", or, as you call it, "the hungry media".

As a reader I feel the same about writers who are sufferingly deferential to their subjects.

Edited by Zoticus (log)
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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?

I see so many wrong things with the statement above, I hardly know where to begin. So maybe I won't begin. This specific post opened a huge can of worms and suddenly this specific topic - the 2007 edition of the Madrid Fusión - has veered off topic.

Shouldn't this discussion of whether Ferran, Heston et al. deserve all their accolades or whether they've been "raised to genius status by a hungry media with nobody better to praise", doesn't this argument belong somewhere else?

By the way, Zoticus, keep in mind that long before it was hard to book a table at El Bulli or at TFD these two guys were wowing customers with their tasty and innovative food. The high praise from the media came YEARS later. I can tell you that in Heston's case, it only became tough to book a table at TFD after he won the Best Restaurant in the World award from Restaurant Magazine, in 2005. I speak from experience.

To say you've oversimplified the whole debate is an understatement.

Sure, some people dislike their cooking. There isn't one restaurant in the world that can please all tastes. There will always be diners that don't like this or that, and that's normal.

And as a food writer myself, I find it very tiring and insulting when perceived evils of the (food) world are blamed on "the media", or, as you call it, "the hungry media".

Now... with that off my chest, back to the Madrid Fusion.

I've read things that I found very hard to understand:

- How did Seiji Yamamoto (Ryugin, Tokyo) "stamp" a bar code on a sauce?? I know he

used squid ink, but still... And how did he "read" this bar code, which apparently

contained the

list of ingredients used in the sauce? Puzzling.

- I understand Arzak (who referred to himself as the old rocker of cooking)

extracted vapors from herbs and called this a "volcano of aromas".

How did he inject this volcano eruption into the meats?

- How did Heston reproduce the aroma from a candyshop? And what

was the purpose of the candies he gave out to the crowd?

Alexandra, thank you for bringing this back to the main focus of this topic.

I would love to read the answers to your questions. Of the three I imagine that Arzak uses a pressure/vacuum device similar to Aduriz, though I might be way off-base.

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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- How did Heston reproduce the aroma from a candyshop? And what

was the purpose of the candies he gave out to the crowd?

I can only answer to this last question, and he does it creating a perfume that starts smelling like a candy and ends smelling like liquorice.

The purpose of the candies is to show the present that he sents to every costumer just after doing the reservation at his restaurant. It includes candies that are not whoat they look like, the orange one tastes like chocolate and the brown one like orange, there is also a candy whoese envelop is also edible...

When you arrive to his restaurant the semell at the entrance is the same on of the perfume, so you are familiar with that and enter into a restaurant as surprising as a candy shop. Or that's what he says.

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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