Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The best painting in the world doesn't make you drool.

"The food arrives, it is described briefly — “waffles of sea lettuce and white sesame,” or “pumpkin oil caramel” — and you eat it.

Then your head explodes."

When I was in high school I went through an egg period. I would sit at lunch with a hard boiled egg and the remains of a carefully collected salad and distract myself when I lost interest in the conversation by making the egg serve as the body of a little bird with lettuce feathers and carrot feet. Or a little businessman with pants made of peppers and googly pea eyes. When I was done I'd cover my creation with a napkin and leave it sitting there in front of me until the moment came when I could most effectively whip off the napkin and reveal my egg Pygmalion to my friends. I was a sucker for their reaction, and I like to think that the egg man gained further adoration when I left him on my tray and sent him on his journey along the moving belt to the kitchen staff, who were beleaguered that year by another kid who had learned to turn a full glass of water upside down against a tray.*

There's a guy in the New York Times who I can imagine might have started out like I did. (And no, it's not that Play With Your Food guy. That guy irritates me. I could kick that guy's ass at a Denny's with no fork.)

This guy is like the best possible outcome of my egghead artistic impulse. His food is postmodern, witty, conceptual, technically astounding...




For instance...

"The olive is made by a process Mr. Adrià calls spherification, a result of three years of steady work with the goal of containing liquids in their own microthin skin. Thus it is olive juice — puréed olive, strained and formed into an olive shape — that holds itself together just until you press it between your tongue and palate.

What else is there? The olive in yet another guise: a silvery coiled spring of salted olive oil, looking like a mini-Slinky and as crunchy as a hard candy, which it effectively is. Also, a thin, brittle basket of solidified passion fruit juice, filled with the essence of tangerine, as floral as a basket of lilies; a bed of savory pine nut ice cream topped with the liquid of nascent pine nuts (a result, in part, of the work of 20 or 30 members of the kitchen staff who spend 30 minutes or more in the morning, cleaning freshly gathered local pine cones); the Parmesan snow, served in a stylishly wrapped plastic-foam box — the better to keep it cold — and topped with, of all things, muesli with dried fruits; a frozen sugar eggshell filled with crunchy coconut and ice cream flavored with the wood from barrels used to make bourbon; and about 25 others."

I so want to go to Barcelona to pay $250 for dinner.

__

* The upside down cup on the tray was an amazing trick, and it really caught on in my year. The deal was to grab a cup of water and flip it so quickly that you had time to smash the cup down on the tray before the water fell out of the cup. If you did it right the cup would sit there, stuck to the tray like something out of the Guinness Book of World Records. If not, well, you got a full cup of water all over yourself.

2 comments:

W said...

I'm having such a flashback right now that it's making my head hurt...

Sam Simpson said...

I KNOW! Could you do that water glass trick? I know someone who sat at lunch with us could...