‘Cooking on TV is not really cooking’

 

I have read an awful lot about Ferran Adria, I own many of his books, and today I was lucky enough to be at a talk he gave about the ‘Art of Cooking’. It was, illuminating.

Looking through my notes shows how eclectic his answers were to questions:

–        ‘I am a cook, not a painter or sculptor’

–        There are 2500 varieties of citrus fruit

–        ‘We provoke’

–        Ask why. Why is the difference between El Bulli and 99% of other restaurants.

–        A mandarin is Chinese but few Chinese dishes use citrus.

–        ‘If you think well, you create well’

–        A crab is a spider

–        ‘Cooking on TV is not really cooking’

–        We know nothing about food

–        Water is unique, no colour, no smell, no taste

–        ‘When someone buys a book on architecture it is not so that they can build a house’

Answers to questions spilled from him, changing tangent seemingly at will. A lot of his answers came back to what he described as his ‘theory of relativity’ in the kitchen, which is a convoluted analogy for the power of perception.

A crab appears normal on a plate, despite being a descended from spiders. Wine is not ‘natural’ any more than El Bulli’s food is ‘unnatural’, it is only perceived as such.

He seemed an avuncular figure on the stage, always very animated in his answers. Though he spoke little English I felt that little was lost in translation, even with such high concepts being thrown around. He spoke with a good deal of humour and a rather wry wit about art and his own accomplishments, it did feel like you were a part of the conversation.

What is it that I am trying to capture in this post? I’m not sure I have a coherent answer to that. Being able to see how Adria’s mind worked in the smallest way and understanding the depth of his passion and love of food was something which will stay with me.

I haven’t had my greatest day in the kitchen and I was pretty disappointed in myself. At the end of the talk I asked him what advice he would give to a young chef, ‘patience’ he replied. That helped give a context to today which eased my disappointment. I’ve been cooking seriously for four months, things will go wrong, I know patience and hard work will get me where I want to be.

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