Have you ever found yourself walking through the lemon groves of Menton or scrolling between the perfect lines of Jasmine covering the mounts and hills of Grasse, all taken great care of so for their precious essence to be extracted as if by miracle to provide tiny amount of the well sought after basis of many great perfumers favored ingredients belonging to a long family of nose specialists , ending being adoringly placed onto ones thin long and delicate neck or in a more mechanical way, being sprayed in micro particles as if to change ones identity making her not only the most desirable perfume carrier beside being ravishing , but by also spreading its joy , sharing its richness and deepest secret to anyone lucky and coming close enough so to have a taste of its aroma.
As juicy peaches, watermelon gorged with the summer sweetness , plump apricots , green and velvety fresh almonds shells protecting the delicate milky nut that will with the right amount of time and attended care and process become the thin toasted slices or nibbed kernels found sprinkled over our Paris-Brest so to give crunch to the creamy praline “Diplomate” are all on display on our kitchens table as if they were an “offrande” to the gods, an enjoyment of the rich summer season we must certainly all celebrate with trumpets and tambourines with feasts around Barbecues all with a good chance of ending with dripping Ice-Cream cones , crisp and delicate , crumbling under the bite, because there is no time given for soaking the waffle , there is only one summer per calendar year.
I want Acacia flowers dipped in fluffy batter before being fried, covered with a cloud of icing sugar so for to give it the largest bite that only a certain joy may provide me with , which is in its turn only felt and generously given by the soft smell of sweetness
I want to walk through the early markets found along the coasts , eyes wide shut being able to describe my whereabouts just by its odora , nectarines to my right , morning baked fougasse to my left and coming rapidly to my senses are the fresh goat milk faisselles still hanging in their basket , they are coming fast running towards me , I see and imagine them spread on a slice of crisp bread still warm from the baking stone or covered with a spoon of lavender honey , the lot being sprinkled with shredded “tartuffon”
What does really matters in our life? It is to serve alongside and in harmony with ourselves, our colleagues ,our families…..our elders…. We all have the opportunity of doing what is right , it is our choice and if taken it is a great path to follow, although it is not a gift everyone has. Cutting corners is like messing around with a recipe , dropping down on the cooking time, reducing its ingredients list so to reduce its cost and therefore , often by altering its final result.
People are the same, you take their juice away, what drives them , reduce them to fabricate, robotise them , automate them, and the result will be obvious, not only on our plates but also the service provided will be affected to the point that all love found prior to the crisis will have vanished , like evaporated into thin air no essence recuperator may catch its gist, not even a glimpse.
Good old recipes are the key to success while new waves of cooking methods are flooding our tables bringing along flavors and techniques never thought before, nor sampled nor tasted.
But , Is the result as often as we would want it to be such a victory on cooking? Are these methods the cooking of tomorrow?
Love is not to be found in kitchens as much but is more to be written about and read in cookery blogs and other social media platforms, that said , nevertheless it is spreading its wings more than anything else. Not that it is easier but it is a way of expression so natural , something that affects us all so closely as our memories always enclose a special moment where for example the Christmas cookies or the easter Flan” in the shape of a lamb (loudly announcing spring) are being reminded in our long list of lost memories.
It is those traditions that makes us what we are, what we believe in and more than anything else who we are!
For me it has always been doing good and the road that taking these methods has incurred me has not always been smooth and easy nor without mistakes nor without falling from time to time, but going back up and bouncing has always helped me understanding this to be the only solution , the perpetual movement of positiveness like good vs evil, light vs darkness.
Negativity is to life what a virus is to flesh, what tyranny is to the people.
Food and culture has indeed helped us getting closer, spreading and sharing our thoughts also have helped understanding each other, creating, building and making use of one another skills, ingredients and recipes sometimes perhaps sacred.
It seems we are far from having seen it all, is that a bad thing? Bring it on I say to that, we may only make our judgment then. This comment is according to human being creativity’s bringing us edgy and various products on daily basis like the “bacon toothpaste” mentioned earlier or the boomerang wok….created so we just have to seat down and relax instead of collecting baby corn and sprouts from our kitchen floor.
Thanks to our geniuses working overnight, sipping pops from plastic straws , elbow on their computer station , munching on a high energy chocolate bar , but from whom an ingenious idea will always sprout and affect us.
There is one inconvenient though, classical thoughts are being lost on the way …….?Not so fast . one may say as to my great pleasure I have a few months back discovered like many of us that Grant Achatz from Alinea , Chicago in the Us is reviving the great spirit, having first hunted down a Duck Press so to now orchestrate the Paris 1906 Dinners with all classical dishes from our master Georges August Escoffier.
What a joy, an example for the so many youngsters in our industry who are blinded by the Extremely Modern approach so many kitchen have now adopted as per their daily routines, dropping all foundations and basics skills any good chef would need in his tool box now taken for granted.
Foam of this , emulsion of that , liquid nitrogen clouds elevating most dishes as if compulsory ingredient to any recipe …..etc
I then ask : Where are the long and slowly bubbling away stock with their reductions of port and paysanne of carrots and shallots with crushed peppercorn ,where is the beautifully crafted bouquet garni usually found alongside, where are the crushed crayfish carcasses roasting , being flambéed with that splash of cognac known for making the difference , I ask ?……instead, hand blenders and siphon are being the tools replacing our “old school” favourite items, “etamine” and “saucieres” and our delicious accompaniments are now emulsions and dried freeze yoghurt and jellied fruit juices. Fresh and lovely flavour though….but often , when not done properly , are to be discovered with a structure or aftertaste leaving us questioning the origin or freshness of what is to be found in our plate providing us instantly with the conclusion that it is at heavy cost to the industry. But worth it! I am now saying so as contradictory as it may sound to your ear but as this exercise may only pushes us to question ourselves and therefore always re-elevating basic knowledges left by our ancestors founding our today industry , society , we may want only to improve and seek its perfection.
I am surely not the only one saying “Merci Mr Achatz” as my thoughts are so definitely genuine that I have now the sudden feeling I have finally met my God….well, one of them.