MOLECULAR CUISINE: February 15th, 1982: Reina and I have just arrived at the very luxurious BRISTOL HOTEL, at 112 Rue du FBG Saint-Honoré in Paris/France. This marvelous hotel is close to the Plaçe Vendôme Square, The Champs Elysées and The Opera Building.

We have been driving the whole day, coming from the Spanish Mediteranian Coast and were quite tired after so many hours of this intense journey. The Hotel concierge takes care of my red 911-Carrera and the luggage is directly sent to our suite where a nice housekeeper unpacks and stores the contents into the oakwooden wardrobe. While Reina is having a shower I relax myself staring at the flickering and sparkling flames of the hearth. It`s cold outside and I`m hungry so I call the Restaurant for a table reservation. Our table at the 2 Michelin Stars Winter Restaurant overlooks the rest of the room, plenty of elegant gentlemen and beautiful ladies. I recognize the famous french movie star Nathalie Baye and some other (political) faces are familiar to me.

Monsieur le Maître arrives with the starters: What the heck is that? A large metal semisphere plate cover is removed from my dish with the words “Et Voilà...” I can hardly see what`s on the plate, a couple of mini tomatoes, some different green herbs and in the center a micro portion of what I had ordered: lobster tail.

Gaston, the Maître, observes my frown and asks me politely if this wasn`t what I had ordered. "C`mon Gaston, I`m hungry, this is ridiculous, what is it?" "Mais Monsieur, c`est l`Essence d`Homard accompagné de Petites Tomates Cherry Farcies de Crevettes de Madagascar". So a hell of microscopic finger work to put all those little mini shrimps into a couple of mini Cherry tomatos, then make a piece of art work out of it with some coloured herbs around the most (less) important element, the lobster tail (I had seen them bigger..).

We were arguing during 5 minutes about this stupid Culinary Art, finally Gaston agreed with me that I was completely right, this was only snob fashion and that a good portion of home made Cassoulet de Castenaudary , Salade César, Paté de Canard, Coq au Vin, Langue de Boeuf, Foie de Veau or Cake aux Oreilles de Cochons, finishing with a selection of good french cheese, drinking a good bottle of Beaujolais Brouilly was many times better than this Comedia del Arte.

Finally and after some years, the tendence changed in France and the “Cuisine des Mousquetaires” came back strongly again, natural food, good cooking, the way it was done during many centuries.

But a new snob fashion was born: the Laboratory Ingredients Transformation Kitchen; Liquid Nitrogen Cooking, the Molecular Gastronomy; The Designer`s Dishes: good for NASA, good for snobs, not good for me: actually I avoid any restaurant that serves Designer`s Food and where the waiter needs to explain what the "Chef" has prepared for you in his Tricky Kitchen Circus.
"The Bulli", voted by S.Pelegrino "Worlds 50 Best Restaurants", the Best Restaurant in the World... Ferran Adrian is the main responsable for the pedantic snobbery atrocities you can consume at his place in Gerona. A typical place for creativeless and easy to impress snobs, unable to appreciate the simple and traditional, having to mutate into a world of pseudo elegancy, kitch, cooking circus and where everything seems to be allowed, the more extravagant, the better.

What`s next on the snob`s table? Le “Chef`s Imaginary Menu”? An empty plate where the client has to visualize and imagine the latest creation and decoration the Chef has virtually transported to your plate?

Don`t laugh: everything but the normal is possible in this crazy and lost world: a couple of decades ago, Remco Campert, a Dutch writer, published a book without text: a 150 unprinted white pages book. You had to imagine what the writer`s intention had been...Bravo Remco, bravo Ferran, Vous êtes les Meilleurs..You`re the Best!

The quote is from Mike Kalin:

"Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated, means: I can`t believe I paid ninety-six dollars and I`m still hungry..” --© Jean Paul Bastiaans --2008


Bart said...

Couldn't agree more. These places always remind me of the tale of the ´new clothes of the emperor´. Try a sidraria in the Spanish Atlantic coast, Le Petit Latin in Amsterdam, the pizzeria on the village square in Olbia (Sardegna), fresh tomato soup with cheddar cheese and home made bread in the UK... There is no glass filled with aroma of garlic and noséque(true dish in El Bulli) which can match that as far as I am concerend.
Mostly, dare to have your own opinion in stead of following the latest cooking critic.

Lusnoc said...

Hé Bart, and how about the fantastic roasted lamb "Segovian style" we had at the Asador Aranda? Good portion of baby lamb`s meat only coocked (ovened) with water and salt,old vine shoot oven, salad of lettuce, onion and tomato,virgin olive oil and excellent red wine from the Duero region???