There is a simple fact that glares at us whenever we enjoy the perfect meal. Sometimes it’s so obvious we can miss it altogether.
Of course you can shell out a fortune to have some top rated, multiple starred restaurant create that perfect sensory perception of a dish complete with foams, edible sand, aroma intensifying garnish and even percussionary effects recreating the ebb and flow of a tidal rhythm. But even if you could afford it, why would you?
I’ve tried for a while now to get my head around the whole molecular gastronomy movement that is (for me anyway) blighting our kitchens and restaurants turning our best chefs into biochemists, persuing some unfathomable wish to astound their customers with at best confusion. If the cooking is confusing then eating it should at least be pleasurable but often leaves the diner baffled but too embarrassed to admit it.
It reminds me of the story of a guy who ordered a seafood platter and when confronted with the utensils to eat it (in this case a small hammer, some claw pics and finger bowl) he smashed everything to a pulp, drank his finger bowl water and used the claw pick to remove the shell debris from his teeth,
Then proclaimed it to be the best thing he’d ever eaten!
I’ve been cooking commercially for just over twenty five years and have secured enough qualifications (and common sense) to be able to train, teach and qualify chefs to industry standards.
I know that the best food I have ever cooked, ever eaten and holds the best memories in my minds eye is the simple honest food cooked from the freshest seasonal ingredients, grown or reared by passionate knowledgeable folk who have a personal interest and committed approach to the products they produce, it has to be personal that’s where the care and love comes from. Then my job is simple, it is just to do the very best I can by that product. That means no messing with it! No chemicals, compounds, enzymes, emulsifiers, spherification, xanthum gum, locust bean gum. Just cut it, cook it, serve it, simples!
Anything I do wish to put with it garnish or otherwise must just compliment it, making sure it reflects the season and sits alongside without requiring an instruction manual for what to do with it.
Why is it suddenly we need all this additional stimulus to remind us that something is good? Possibly because we’ve become so detached from reality in our virtual worlds, busily updating our bogus statuses we’ve all forgotten who we really are?
If you want sensory perception stimulus and such, next time you eat, put down your device (better still leave it at home) get in the car, you want good seafood? Drive to the coast (in my case Gower), find the busiest restaurant you can find, that way you know it’s fresh and not hanging around, order the fish off the specials board, ask everything about it, where it came from, when it was caught- if they’re good that will be on the board and if they’re really good they’ll have the name of the boat and reg number too! If the weather’s good eat outside so you can see the views. Then take a walk along the beach after, there you go sensory stimulus complete!
That’s why I live and work where I do, it really is as good as it gets.
Good right now:
Local line caught Gower Sea Bass new season Gower new potatoes, Herefordshire Asparagus, Spinach and a Salsa Verde