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May 13, 2005



Haddock -- We're obviously on the same page(s) today, having -- I almost said "diegested" --read the same sections of the same great big papers that tell us what is new in the world's oldest profession, feeding people...I may be a dinosaur, too. Even reading the descriptions of the precious courses exhausted me. I have been to the French Laundry, which I find much more pleasing than Michael Mina, which seems more laboratorial (if there's such a word), where servers tell you what they are serving you, how each flavor works, and how to eat it. One long dinner there left me wondering whether I would want to go back more than once a year, it was so annoying...One thing leapt out at the end of the NYT pages-long report on this often ridiculous,literally smoke-and-mirrors cuisine. Frank Bruni wrote, " Food should be artful but it has responsibilities art does not. Unlike a Pollack painting or Botero sculture, it goes into your mouth. Its worth depends on how happy a home it finds there."


I'm inbetween on this one. I'm leaving for a trip to spain and Paris on Sunday which will include a trip to El Bulli. I think more than the food the media hype is getting old. But I also think there needs to be balance. Not every cook can play the game, but hopefully more people pick up the great ideas. And not every course can be high tech. I did have the best piece of Salmon at El Bulli a couple of years ago, and there was nothing gimmicky about it.
After reading about all the new stuff, I really do think it seems to be getting played out. But like everything it's not the ideas but how much I hear about them. Like all good things someone takes things to far and but that helps us figure out what is useful. It's a big pendulum,

After this trip I'll be interested to see where I stand on it.


I guess I think there is room for them both, for both extremes and for everything in the middle. Like I don't make or display art that is made from elephant poo in the shape of the Pope, I appreciate that there is an audience for it and that boundaries are being pushed.

I haven't eaten at El Bulli, and maybe never will, but when am at home thinking of a new way to make asparagus for dinner, and I see a picture of someone who has made an apple out of asparagus accompanied by a caviar Pope figurine, I think WOW that's cool. I'll still eat my asparagus the way I make it and hope to have fresh seasonal ingredients cooked right at my favorite restaurants. But I think there's room for those that want to push the edges of what we are used to. I just don't think it makes it 'better', just makes things a bit more sensual, in the senses way.

Anyway, everything is cyclical and goes in and out of fashion. The backlash has already begun.

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