In a Golden Age, Bronze and Bronzed have pushed their way in

The truth is that the situation in which cuisine finds itself in Spain is so confused that it induces intellectual confusion. Wait, let’s not fool ourselves: the only confusion here lies with a large portion of prominent chefs who have stopped being artisans, do not dedicate time to creativity, have become business executives, run free in the business web, make commitments they cannot keep, and live by and for their image. In short, nowadays a slew of narcissists is spreading uncontrollably, with no interest even in reciting an Our Father for some barnacles (Spanish tradition has it that barnacles are perfectly done in the time it takes to recite six Our Fathers). Their future has been set on radio talk shows, appearances on newscasts, talk shows… and continuing from here, we can only arrive at Salsa Rosa and Aquí Hay Tomate (two popular Spanish television programs). They are victims of our time and our society. They have become life artists instead of culinary ones.

In this panorama of multiple jobs and lack of control, how could we not be in crisis? We are also suffering a drought in ideas from young, honest, serious, rigorous, and ambitious professionals who try, but find it difficult to advance. It is very difficult, among other reasons, because the level reached over the last few years has corresponded to a golden age. We already know that, in any facet of life—in cuisine, painting, literature, etc.—a golden age turns to silver, and from silver to bronze, which is a lot, especially in terms of money. And we already know that, on a personal level, all professionals have a growth period, another in which to recreate themselves in their work, and a third that ends in retirement, whether it be voluntary, agreed upon or obligatory. Desire does not always go with ability. This is happening: there is an artistic, avant-garde cuisine that has made history, and a great one at that; but this does not mean that all who are called into battle will find glory.

Without vocation, without boldness, we surely cannot create vanguard. But perhaps the time has come to slow creativity. Dishes on menus cannot be substituted for others that have mere intention but do not say anything: mental lucubration that produces no carnal pleasure. We of course eat with our heads, but we will end up losing our brains if we don’t first do it with out mouths—if we don’t deify what is human. It is only worth communicating a new message when we have something truly interesting to say. Of course, virtue lies in equilibrium: neither too much nor too little, neither too little nor too much. Developing numerous inventions that don’t say anything is like not producing any or producing four ostentatious stupidities to make a show of deceiving the naïve.

If this lack of concentration is serious, if there is no more than meets the eye, what can we do? The worst are the symptoms of fatigue evident in executions. For different reasons, from the slacking off of those who lead to the slacking off of those who follow, we are witnessing a growing mediocrity in results. And this is lamentable, and very much so: more and more restaurants have adapted and live off of private incomes. This is not a question of the great ones, but it is extensive in traditional cooking: care has fallen to become simply work.

We are going from the golden age of cuisine in Spain to that of bronze and bronzed. What can we do? Obviously, not join the comedy troupe. We need to regain our humility, the great days in which enthusiasm reigned. We have become so important that decent fries can’t even be found in any restaurant.