Pictures from a Recent Editorial Trip through Madrid, Spain:
  Dassa Bassa
  Love Potions
  Rosť Champagne
  On the Plate
  Madrid Fusion


Letter From the Editor Vol.11

A Dialogue Between Science and Food

February 2007

While pacing the stage at Madrid Fusion, between discussions of the chemical structure of ingredients and the wonders of freeze-drying, Ferran Adria made a passing comment about the state of food: “if Escoffier came to my kitchen today, he wouldn’t know what to do!” The audience laughed, nodded their heads, and continued scribbling notes about spherification and alginates. Now two weeks later, we think of this comment and smile again, because Ferran was right. In the last ten years we’ve seen a new approach to cuisine. It’s chemical, philosophical, and technical, and in Madrid it was described by many as “a dialogue between science and food.”

From natural-occurring alginates, to vacuum machines, to material science (which gets down to the chemical nuts and bolts of an ingredient), techniques and tools have certainly changed the face of the modern kitchen. The science/food dialogue is exciting – it’s broadening the resources from which a chef can draw, and is defining the future of cuisine. It seems that journalists can’t help but mention Marie-Antoine Carême when trying to contextualize this new cuisine. Like with Carême, today’s fine-dining is an increasingly theatrical, whimsical, multi-sensory affair. Experimentation in the kitchen is a part of the theater executed in the front of the house – diners make their own “noodles” at WD~50, and take a whiff of kitchen-crafted “perfume” at Cru as part of a course. And both tools and philosophies are trickling down from big kitchens to the mainstream (think of the now-ubiquitous iSi whipper).

As with the time of Carême, it appears more and more that the last few years will be marked as a turning point in the approach to cuisine. And not only because of the interplay between technology, entertainment and artistry, but because of deepened understanding of – and interest in – the product. We heard it over and over again in Madrid: there is no progress without better understanding of ingredients, and that chefs would benefit from taking the tools they all have – their minds, their senses and their knives – to further comprehend the basic chemistry and composition of the product they serve.

In the spirit of Madrid, this Valentine’s Day we reexamine ingredients by delving into the elements of flavor and aroma. In Aphrodisiacs we focus on chocolate – uncovering old myths about its passion-inducing qualities, and highlighting recipes that pair chocolate with some unusual bedmates (mustard, prosciutto, and cheese). In Love Potions, Bar Chef Junior Merino plays with bubbly in Champagne-based cocktails with multi-sensory appeal. And in our newest On the Plate we feature some of the playful and engaging presentations from Madrid Fusion. These features are all about evocative aromas, colors, flavors, textures…but also about knowing your ingredients, and using that knowledge to take them to new heights!

Antoinette Bruno




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