Book Reviews

Book Review: Food for Thought, Thought for Food.

COMIDA PARA PENSAR, PENSAR SOBRE COMER

(FOOD FOR THOUGHT, THOUGHT FOR FOOD)
Edited by Richard Hamilton and Vicente Todoli
Actor Publishing, Barcelona, Spain
(US Distributor – officeusa”actar-d.com

This unique book is about El Bulli, which was until recently, world’s most famous restaurant. You had to reserve six months ahead. The epic-length meals at El Bulli with numerous  bite-sized courses of delicate food were presented in very artistic, visually stunning, and  texturally unique fashion.

El Bulli was open six months a year, the other half of the year was devoted to research and invention of new recipes. Each was tried several times to make changes if required.

Ferran Adria is not the inventor of molecular cuisine, but he single-handedly popularized this style of cooking worldwide. He was involved in all kinds of gastronomic discussions with like-minded chefs in Spain and elsewhere in the world, food critics, and gastronomes in Europe.

He is the genius behind creating techniques that required machines, which can be precisely set to maintain constant temperatures in an attempt to achieve textures, and flavours that humans never experienced before.

Ferran Adria`s deep knowledge of combining hitherto unthought of foods like hibiscus with blackcurrants and eucalyptus, or serving caramelized egg yolk are just to name a few of his inventions.

This unique book takes a close look at El Bulli, located approximately 30 kilometres from Barcelona, Catalonia. It includes more than 1000 pictures of the dishes served at this restaurant, and delves deep into the philosophy behind the venue and Ferran Adria`s perception of food and plate presentation.

Any chef would benefit immensely by studying the pictures, and if he-she has a basic knowledge of Spanish can comprehend the essence of the text.

This book offers a compilation of letters from El Bulli`s aficionados, some of whom flew from North America just to experience the food, debates between food lovers, chefs, food critics, artists and gallery owners.

The menu below, compiled and served in 2007 under the title Documenta 2007 should give the reader an idea of how Farran Adria`s mind works. He was inspired by cuisines of the west and east.

DOCUMENTA 2007 MENU

GIN FIZZ FROZEN CALIENTE
(Frozen gin fizz)

ACEITUNAS VERDES SFERICAS
(Small spherical green olives)

COSMOPOLITAN MALLOW
(An adaptation of the Cosmopolitan cocktail)

PINA LYO
(Pineapple sticks prepared chip-style)

HOJA CROQUANTAR DE MANGO Y FLOR DE TAGETE
(Crispy bay leaf -shaped mango slices and tagete flower)

PAPEL DE HIBISCO CON GROSELLA NEGRA E EUCALIPTO
(Torchon of hibiscus with blackcurrants and eucalyptus)

DENTELLE DE MAIZ E PLATANO
(Dantelle of corn and plantain)

MERENGUE/PROFITORELE DE REMOLACHA Y YOGUR
(Profitorelle of raspberry and yoghurt)

CATANIAS DE NUEZ
(Chestnut-formed walnuts in pastry)

CHOCOLATE SALADO DE ACEITE DE OLIVE VIRGEN
(Chocolate salad in extra virgin olive oil)

SOUFFLEES DE PARMESANO
(Parmesan soufflés inspired from soufflé potatoes)

BOMBON DE MANDARINA/PALET DE CACAHUETE Y CURRY
(Mandarin orange bonbon on peanut curry sauce)

HUEVO DE ORO
(Caramelized egg yolk)

BIZCOCHO DE PISTACHIO CON SPUMA DE YOGUR
(Pistachio nut bisquit with yoghurt foam)

BIZCOCHO DE SESAME NEGRO Y MISO
(Toasted sesame bisquit and miso)

PAPEL DE FLORES
(Flowers on spun sugar)

FONDANT DE FRAMBUESCA CON WASABI Y VINAGRE DE FRAMBUESA
(Raspberry fondant with wasabi and raspberry vinegar)

FLORES DE HORCHATA
(Orgeat flowers)

ALMENDRAS TIERNAS CON ACEITE DE SUS RAICES
(Tender almonds in almond root oil)

YOGUR DES OSTRAS CON PX EN TEMPURA
(Oyster in semi-liquid form and tempura-style Pedro Ximenez )

MEJILLONES DE ROCA AL LIMON, NARANJE E HINOJO
(Mussels with lemon, orange and dill)

JUDION CON PANCHETTA JOSELITO Y AJO NEGRO
(Beans with Joselito panchetta(1) and black garlic)

AIRE HELADO DE PARMESANO CON MUESLI
(Frozen Parmesan foam with muesli)

ELATINA DE DASHI CON CAVIAR DE MISO
(Dashi in gelatine with miso caviar)

NCHOA CON JAMON, FLOR DE ALBAHACA Y PIEL DE LECHE AL YOGUR
(Anchovies with ham, basil flower and “Milk skin” yoghurt-style)

DACQUAISE DE PINO
(Pine nut dacquoise)

CASCARA DE PINONES TIERNOS
(Cascara of tender pine nuts)

RISOTTO DE POMELO ROSA THAI CON COCO Y SESAME BLANCO
(Pink grapefruit, Thai risotto with coconut and white sesame)

EMPANADILLAS DE PIMENTO DE PADRON CON SU JUGO REGALIZ
(Empanadillas de pardon peppers with liquorice juice)

NOQUIS DE POLENTA CON CAFÉ, PIEL DE LECHE AL AZAFRAN Y ALCAPARRAS
(Polenta gnocchi with coffee, saffron, milk skin, and capers)

NAVAJAS CALIENTES CON ALGA LAURENCIA
(Razor clams with Laurencia seaweed)

VENTRESCA DE CABALLA TERIYAKI
(Mackerel belly cooked teriyaki style)

HOJA DE CAPUCHINA CON ANGUILLA AHUMADA Y TIETANO DE TERNERA
(Smoked eel and veal marrow presented on leaf)

JUGO DE LIEBRA CON GELATINA – CRU DE MANZANA A LA GROSELLA
NEGRA
(Gelatin of hare juice, raw apple and black currants)

LANA 2007
Frozen Jack Daniel’s in span sugar)

MORAS ESCARCHADAS
(Crystallized blackberries)

ORQUIDEA
(Orchids)

(1)   Joselito is a Spanish ham producer located in Estremadura that uses pata negra pigs for ham.

Comida para pensar, pensar sobre el comer is a book that all inspiring and practising chefs should have in their libraries to study carefully and periodically for inspiration and contemplation.

Anyone who speaks Spanish and loves food will benefit immensely by acquiring this book.

At the end of the book a chart depicting how food styles evolved from 1900 to 2008 is an excellent and informative presentation depicting  the constant evolution of gastronomy for all interested in avantgarde food, food preparation, presentation, taste, and texture.

Highly recommended..

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One Comment

  1. This book also has an English version only: Food for Thought. Thought for Food.

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