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Customer Review

35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse at the Unattainable, July 25, 2008
This review is from: El Bulli 2003-2004 (Hardcover)
I apologize in advance to all my fellow foodies for stating a minority (and probably politically incorrect) opinion here -- please forgive me. This is a beautiful book, and it describes amazing food; but for anybody who is not a professional chef AND a mad scientist, the preparations are totally unattainable. Reading this book is like reading about a supermodel: admire and ogle and fantasize all you want, but do you really think you have any chance of meeting, conversing with, or dating such a woman? It also reminds me of the music of Harry Partch, which can only be played on one-of-a-kind instruments which Partch invented; without the cooking implements available only to the chefs of El Bulli, plus a fully-stocked chemistry lab to synthesize nanofoods and monitor pH levels, recreating the vast majority of these dishes is largely impossible. And since the restaurant is only open 6 months a year, and accommodates less than 1% of those requesting reservations, it is highly unlikely you'll ever taste any of the food either, even if you can afford the 300-Euro-per-person tab (hotel & airfare not included). So, one is forced to ask: What's the point? I suppose, for about the price of a single meal for one at El Bulli, it might yield some vicarious pleasures and satisfy some of your curiosity about how a particular dish is made. And it is certainly a VERY generous Christmas gift for your relative the foody who has absolutely everything. But if you're expecting to be able to take this book into the kitchen and recreate El Bulli cuisine, sorry -- you're whistling past the compost pile.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 23, 2008 8:28:46 AM PDT
o dubhthaigh says:
thanks for talking sense. As a professional, I can tell you that el Bulli also benefits from having backers for whom price is no object. Thus, this is a fairy tale with its own PR department. Honestly, the man is a formidable chef, but the price of the book is telling you that you buy this to validate yourself and bask in reflected entitlement. The politics of his circumstances are of no relevance to the rest of us who create memorable dishes the world over. Or as P T Branum put it, "there's a sucker born evry moment..." Step right up....

Posted on Dec 7, 2010 12:37:34 PM PST
Bradley Wood says:
I love the analogy to Partch and his unique instruments.

Posted on Sep 10, 2011 11:11:45 AM PDT
C.Hill says:
Reviews are to be based on the product itself, not your personal inadequacies. Because you lack culinary prowess, access to the proper tools, and a general cynical view on the subject matter, your review should be excluded from consideration. What it sounds like is bitterness from either you're failure to obtain reservations, or failure to complete any of the recipes included. The elBulli books are written for pure culinary elitists and as documentation for groundbreaking gastronomical history. Giving it 2 stars is just ludicrous.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2011 8:18:18 AM PDT
DoctorJoeE says:
Gee, I'm so envious of you "pure culinary elitists" who are SO much wiser and more sophisticated than us ordinary food folks. I so wish that, like you, I owned pH monitors, liquid nitrogen tanks, stills, bioreactors, labs full of the instruments for synthesizing nanomolecular compounds, and all the other "proper tools" necessary for creation of El Bulli dishes. Unless, of course, you're like most of the "pure culinary elitists" I've met, who appreciate a pretty plate but have no concept what its assemblage might involve, and couldn't boil water on a bet.

Alas, I'm just an ordinary foodie, with an ordinary collection of cooking appliances, who has cooked in a variety of culinary categories at most levels of difficulty for almost 40 years now. The purpose of my review was to warn ordinary cooks like myself that most El Bulli recipes require a PhD in physical biochemistry and a state-of-the-art lab, regardless of your level of cooking expertise. In other words, the El Bulli books are not intended for home cooks.

However, Ferran Adria is releasing a book this week that IS for home cooks, purportedly composed of easy, familiar and approachable recipes. (I can't wait for my copy to arrive!) So apparently, even Adria sees the elephant in the room that you elitists prefer to ignore.

For what it's worth, though, I have eaten at El Bulli. It was a singular experience. Have you?

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 8:59:40 AM PST
T. Ciuriak says:
What's the point?

Surely *not* to re-create elBulli - even if you could. I mean, why would you? It's been done.

No, the idea, surely, is to learn what is possible, get new ideas and try - if you can - to use some of the concepts to your advantage.


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2012 9:56:21 AM PST
DoctorJoeE says:
Surely! Or, more specifically, to learn what is possible IF you happen to have a fully-stocked chemistry laboratory at your disposal.

For the record, Ferran's latest book, entitled "The Family Meal - Home Cooking with Ferran Adria", is a much better (and much more reasonably priced) way to assimilate some of his ideas and concepts.

Posted on Oct 6, 2012 5:55:12 AM PDT
You dont get it. That is exactly the point, taking it to the limit. Its like avantgarde music, mayby it never gets mainstream, but it have a great influence on how music sounds in 5 or 10 years

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 28, 2013 8:39:07 AM PDT
DoctorJoeE says:
You're right, I don't get it. It has now been 5 or 10 years; El Bulli is closed, and none of his imitators are doing well, at least in New York City, where I live. Current music doesn't sound much like Harry Partch, either.
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