7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Stunning pictures, no compromise on the recipes,
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This review is from: Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking (Hardcover)
First up it must be said that the pictures of dishes are stunning. Each dish was photographed on a white plate and/or surface creating the impression of a small degustation portion that sits as comfortably on the page as it would in front of you in the restaurant.
Secondly, the influence of Ferran Adria is apparent throughout the text. Anduriz appears to have taken to heart both the extreme creativity and evolutionary approach of his mentor. It is apparent, however, that he has infused this with his own personality and abundant talent. Like Adria's El Bulli books, the first section of the book deals with his philosophy and approach to both cuisine and his diners. It also documents the evolution of new approaches over the time period 1998 to 2001. This includes which processes and techniques were added each year. For example, in 2006 they added impregnation sous vide, and rheology studies (the science behind edible bubbles). Dishes in the book that demonstrate each of these techniques are listed. Like Heston Blumenthal, Aduriz works with scientists to understand and evolve processes or sensory experiences and puts this to use in his recipes. To give an idea of the scale of the introduction, the first recipe only appears on page 94.
Now onto the recipes themselves. While many can be created in a more conventional kitchen, others are unashamedly modernist requiring (at times) access to a sous vide setup or combi-oven, a thermomix, a roto-vap, etc as well as a range of kitchen chemicals (xanthan gum, calcium oxide, pectin, and so on). Rather than making these appear exotic, Anduriz follows the tradition of many contemporary chefs and incorporates the techniques and equipment into his cooking as a matter of fact. I think this indicates an answer to the question of where modernist cuisine is heading. Not to obscurity as many suggest but more towards the mainstream as an element central to many chefs' everyday restaurant cooking.
This is a book that can be used by someone with quite advanced cooking skills and a willingness to undertake a number of different processes to create a dish. It is very much a restaurant rather than a home cookbook. The flavour combinations are exciting and delicate but be warned: this is a book of degustation-style and sized dishes. While these dishes could be placed at various stages within a conventional type meal schedule, making a complete dinner with them would require the creation of a number of complex dishes, which would be difficult to achieve in a home situation cooking by yourself. My preference would be to use individual dishes as either an appetiser, entree, or dessert in combination with other, more substantial, dishes.
In all, this is a welcome addition to the cooking library of advanced chefs who are comfortable using a wide range of cooking processes, including some that fit under the modernist category.
It's also a marvellous book to read and drool over the food pictures.