After Adrià: Aduriz and the Quest for Kitchen Values

Foods from Spain  New York, 2001, (1,335 words; adapted and updated 2013)
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Mugaritz / A dozen dishes explored musky flavours, subtle colours, soft textures from silky to gloopy, the gentle aroma of childhood dinners ... all unexpected.

Six years passed before I went back to Mugaritz for a winter lunch. A dozen dishes explored musky flavours, subtle colours, soft textures from silky to gloopy, the gentle aromas of childhood dishes ... all unexpected. Miraculously, Andoni had slipped his questions into the food without taking away from the pleasure of eating.

Here are a few examples:

  • potatoes cooked as trompe l’oeuil truffles
  • a flash of coral sea urchins under a simple rosemary cream
  • a milky crab claw cooked in goat’s butter served with black bean and corn stew

So, familiar luxury matched with the everyday from many food cultures.

Then came the first of three desserts. A plateful of smoke-filled cocoa bubbles arrived at the table. The bubbles popped to reveal a gold smudge on the edge of the plate. How to hold back on childishly wanting to stick in your spoon or wipe up the gold? But waiting just a minute or two, watching the bubbles pop instead, revealed a tiny plain block of dark chocolate cake sitting in cocoa-bubble cream. The real thing. It left a long satisfying aftertaste. That dish, entitled Interpretation of Vanity, prophetically winked at what was to come in post-bubble Spain.

A few months after that lunch, I had the luck to chat with Harold McGee at the Eurotoques' conference in San Sebastian. Andoni, who had brought everyone together, was writing the introduction to a new Spanish edition of his mythical book On Food and Cooking. The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (1984). We chatted, admiringly, about the Mugaritz team.


"You know," he said, "I have the feeling that Andoni and I share a bigger interest in the sources of technical details than the details themselves. Where do they come from in the globe? What do they evoke? What are the relationships between human beings that made them possible?"

Perhaps it will take a while to say farewell to foams. But at least the quest for long satisfying aftertastes in the post-bubble years is on the agenda.  

© Vicky Hayward, 2001-2013

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