Ask a Book Question

Ask a Book Question: The Seventeenth in a Series (Cookbooks and the New Wave)

By posted at 10:12 am on April 29, 2004 0

Ms. Millions writes in with this culinary question:

I came across this article in the NYTimes Dining + Wine section with a book mention, Know anything about it? Got any other great cookbook recommendations? I know Edan does..;] PS- Happy Birthday to me ;]

As Ms. Millions certainly knows, I am no master of haute cuisine — I once made gazpacho from scratch, but it took me six hours — but I do have a sweet tooth for food writing. And it is in this capacity that I first encountered the inspiration for the article mentioned above, Ferran Adria. If memory serves, there is an essay in one of the two Jeffrey Steingarten books, The Man Who Ate Everything or It Must’ve Been Something I Ate, in which Steingarten makes a pilgrimage to Adria’s outlandish restaurant, El Bulli, outside Barcelona. Or maybe it was Calvin Trillin in his book, Feeding a Yen; I can’t remember (I’m a glutton for food books). At any rate, Adria is a fascinating character, part mad scientist part celebrity chef. He spends six months out of the year in a lab in Barcelona devising new technologies to push the limits of cooking. He creates foams and gelatins using unexpected ingredients and he layers flavors and temperatures in his dishes in disconcerting ways. In the book Chef’s Night Out, in which celebrity chefs visit one another’s restaurants, Todd English (whose latest restaurant is on the Queen Mary 2) compares Adria to Willy Wonka, and Nancy Silverton of LA’s own Campanile describes eating at El Bulli as “more of an artistic encounter.” Adria is so out there that even the most adventurous eaters find themselves bewildered by his creations. Nonetheless, Matt Lee and Ted Lee of the Times decided to throw a dinner party using Adria’s techniques. As a guide, they use the El Bulli cookbook, a book that sounds remarkable but appears to be very difficult to get a hold of. After searching around, it doesn’t seem as though there are any books that delve into Adria’s techniques, but I was able to find a couple of books that appear to blend traditional Spanish ingredients with contemporary methods. In The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen Paula Wolfert applies the recent “slow food” trend to Spanish cooking, as well as other Mediterranean cuisines. And El Farol is a book full of contemporary and traditional Spanish recipes from a restaurant of the same name in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hope this helped. Happy birthday Ms. Millions! (If any cookbook mavens out there have a hot cookbook recommendation, don’t hesitate to leave a comment)

covercovercovercovercovercover

The Millions' future depends on your support. Become a member today!




Share this article

More from the Millions

Post a Response

Comments with unrelated links will be deleted. If you'd like to reach our readers, consider buying an advertisement instead.

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments that do not add to the conversation will be deleted at our discretion.

NEW COMMENTING RULE: Comments may be held for moderation and/or deleted. Whitelisted commenters will see their comments appear immediately. Don't be a jerk. We reserve the right to delete your comment or revoke commenting privileges for any reason we want.