Thursday, October 26, 2006

Synthesis of elBulli cuisine

By Chef Ferran Adrià
El Bulli - Roses, Spain

In the mid-1990s a new style of cuisine began to be forged. Ferran Adrià is the creator of the synthesis of elBulli cuisine. elBulli has been voted the best restaurant in the world.

1. Cooking is a language through which all the following properties may be expressed: harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation and culture.

2. The use of top quality products and technical knowledge to prepare them properly are taken for granted.

3. All products have the same gastronomic value, regardless of their price.

4. Preference is given to vegetables and seafood, with a key role also being played by dairy products, nuts and other products that make up a light form of cooking. In recent years red meat and large cuts of poultry have been very sparingly used.

5. Although the characteristics of the products may be modified (temperature, texture, shape, etc.), the aim is always to preserve the purity of their original flavour, except for processes that call for long cooking or seek the nuances of particular reactions such as the Maillard reaction.

6. Cooking techniques, both classic and modern, are a heritage that the cook has to know how to exploit to the maximum.

7. As has occurred in most fields of human evolution down the ages, new technologies are a resource for the progress of cooking.

8. The family of stocks is being extended. Together with the classic ones, lighter stocks performing an identical function are now being used (waters, broths, consommés, clarified vegetable juses, nut milk, etc.).

9. The information given off by a dish is enjoyed through the senses; it is also enjoyed and interpreted by reflection.

10. Taste is not the only sense that can be stimulated: touch can also be played with (contrasts of temperatures and textures), as well as smell, sight (colours, shapes, trompe d’oeil, etc.), whereby the five senses become one of the main points of reference in the creative cooking process.

11. The technique-concept search is the apex of the creative pyramid.

12. Creation involves teamwork. In addition, research has become consolidated as a new feature of the culinary creative process.

13. The barriers between the sweet and savoury world are being broken down. Importance is being given to a new cold cuisine, particularly in the creation of the frozen savoury world.

14. The classical structure of dishes is being broken down: a veritable revolution is underway in first courses and desserts, closely bound up with the concept of symbiosis between the sweet and savoury world; in main dishes the "product-garnish-sauce" hierarchy is being broken down.

15. A new way of serving food is being promoted. The dishes are finished in the dining room by the serving staff. In other cases the diners themselves participate in this process.

16. Regional cuisine as a style is an expression of its own geographical and cultural context as well as its culinary traditions. Its bond with nature complements and enriches this relationship with its environment.

17. Products and preparations from other countries are subjected to one's particular style of cooking.

18. There are two main paths towards attaining harmony of products and flavours: through memory (connection with regional cooking traditions, adaptation, deconstruction, former modern recipes), or through new combinations.

19. A culinary language is being created which is becoming more and more ordered, that on some occasions establishes a relationship with the world and language of art.

20. Recipes are designed to ensure that harmony is to be found in small servings.

21. Decontextualisation, irony, spectacle, performance are completely legitimate, as long as they are not superficial but respond to, or are closely bound up with, a process of gastronomic reflection.

22. The menu de dégustation is the finest expression of avant-garde cooking. The structure is alive and subject to changes. Concepts such as snacks, tapas, pre-desserts, morphs, etc., are coming into their own.

23. Knowledge and/or collaboration with experts from different fields (gastronomic culture, history, industrial design, etc.,) is essential for progress in cooking. In particular collaboration with the food industry and the scientific world has brought about fundamental advances. Sharing this knowledge among cooking professionals has contributed to this evolution.


Visit our event about 'the future of Food Design'
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Registration: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Where: ROC, Hotelschool, Da Costastraat 64, Amsterdam

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The new Corinthians: How the Web is socialising journalism

Milverton Wallace, founder/organiser of the European Online Journalism Awards

The momentum of change is with the new Corinthians. The open source ethos and method of work/production, which began in the periphery with collaborative software development, is moving to centre stage by way of the blogging revolution and open standards in web services. In tagging, syndication, ranking and bookmarking we have the rudiments of a peer-to-peer trust, reputation and recommendation system well suited to self-regulating collaborative networks.

James Cameron (1911-1985), arguably the greatest British journalist of the last 100 years, always insisted that journalism is a craft. Now "craft" implies pride in work, integrity in dealing with customers, rites of passage, and long years of training to acquire the requisite skills/knowledge.
But that was then. Today, journalism is a "profession". Many aspiring hacks now need a university or other accredited "qualification", and, except in the Anglo-American world, a government issued licence to"qualify" as a journalist. In some countries you're compelled by regulations to belong to a recognised association and to obey its code of standards in order to practice and earn a living as a journalist. The march towards professionalism began with the rise of the mass media in the latter part of the 19th century, a development made possible by the invention of the rotary printing press, cheap papermaking from wood pulp, and mass literacy.

Cheap mass circulation newspapers gave proprietors the kind of political influence they never had before. The press was becoming an increasingly powerful social force, a counter-balance to big business and the state. However, this power was fragile. Corporations and governments resisted the press's self-appointed role of watchdog and muckraker. But the press barons fought back.
In response to state and corporate resistance to openness and disclosure of information, they raised the banner of "the public's right to know" as a fundamental democratic freedom. To counter charges of irresponsible reporting, journalists developed rigorous techniques for gathering, distilling and presenting information; and, to standardise these procedures and wrap them in an ethical framework, a normative model for reporting, carved in stone, was crafted: impartiality, objectivity, accuracy, transparency.

Thus was Cameron's craft gradually "professionalised", and, in the process, turned into an exclusive club with a privileged membership.

Today, this carefully constructed edifice is crumbling as the read/write web blows away the need to be a member of any such club to be able to practise journalism. Arguments about who is or isn't a journalist is a sideshow, a pre-occupation mostly of self-styled guardians of truth. The inexorable fact is that the genie is out of the bottle and a significant number of "unqualified" people are "doing journalism" without permission from anyone.

So, let us accept that the "authorities" can no longer decide who is or isn't a journalist. We have no choice. But we need to ask some crucial questions: Who will now enforce the rules and codes? What is to become of them? Should we care? Do we still need them? Are they "fit for purpose" in the digital age?

Digital media, and in particular, it's social offsprings - social media such as blogs, vlogs, wikis, IM; social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Tagworld, Orkut etc., and social bookmarking services such as Furl,, DIGG, StumbleUpon, MyWeb - have enabled the amateurisation of the media. The barbarians have entered the gates. Is the empire on the verge of collapse?

Nowadays, the word "amateur" is being deployed by media professionals to belittle the media-making efforts of bloggers and others who create media productions outside the journalism guilds. Such reporting is deemed "unreliable", "biased", "subjective"; they are "unaccountable", the facts and the sources "unverifiable".

All of this must be puzzling to historians of the modern mass media. Consider the first newspaper in English, a translation of a Dutch coranto, printed in Amsterdam in December 1620 and exported to England. It began with an apology, a typographical error, a number of lies and disinformation. The apology appeared in the first line of the publication: "The new tydings out of Italie are not yet com". The error (in spelling) was in the date: "The 2. of Decemember". The lies? The dates of many events were brought forward to make the news appear fresher than they were. The disinformation? Many news items in the Dutch edition which might have displeased the English government were not translated for the English edition out of fear that the authorities would seize or ban the publication. Verily, a very unprofessional beginning!

And who were the "reporters" for the early periodical press? Postmasters, clergymen, sheriffs, burghers, shipping clerks, court officials, merchants, travellers. In a word, "amateurs"!
So now we've come full circle: from 17th /18th century amateurism, to 19th/20th century professionalism and back to amateurism in the 21st century.

Here we use ....

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