Speculation on the future

It’s the million dollar question, and one that has no response. It’s always there lingering in the background and every once in a while someone actually brings it up: what will tomorrow’s cuisine be like? Jules Verne himself, who brought more fantasy into life than just about anyone, didn’t dare to postulate about the idea of cloned food. The best we have been able to do is prophesize food pellets; which for the time being have not evolved past flavored diet shakes.

Now they’re all arguing, either for or against, about the 23 point Manifesto produced recently by Ferran Adrià. What do you think about it?

I don’t believe that such an intelligent, brilliant man, whom we hold in such high esteem, intended on doing anything aside from simply introducing some ideas for debate in order to make people reflect on his opinions. Welcome would be a discussion over the appropriateness of a single tasting menu in a restaurant, or if having two is better, or if it is more correct to serve a la carte, or about the number of dishes that must be figured into the equations… if it served to draw some conclusions about the pros and cons of different approaches. In this way, with a positive intention, I think these questions have been posed. Even the village idiot is conscious of the fact that it lacks a single solution, in so much as there as many answers as there are restaurant owners and clients.

Who’s right then? Nobody. Seriously, when Adrià says that he’s no longer interested in meats, it should not be interpreted that he’s now championing its abolition from the culinary world. That Ferran defends the use of industrial products in haute cuisine does not mean that he is fighting for the eradication of all products apart from those he uses himself. Has he really been deified to such an extent as that? I cannot believe that he set out to write a New Testament for all of culinary history. He is much more insightful than that. But if someone can demonstrate the contrary, I’ll eat five snakes with their respective tongues...

I believe it is a provocation more than anything, although times of provocation have seen better days. I bring up these different possible reasons simply because he no longer needs to draw attention to himself. Of course, one is always something of what one was, and one will always be something of what one is now. Perhaps it was a simple mistake and we are confronting a linguistic error, along with a lack of foresight of the consequences. The title “Manifesto” is subject to misinterpretation itself. It is too easily associated with the “Ten Commandments” of Nouvelle Cuisine. It resounds with connotations of past revolutionary proclamations. Calling for a founding of a doctrine. Movements which end up being dangerous in any facet of life for the simple reason that they are monolithic and overreaching.

If the incorrectly titled Manifesto had been called Synthesis of a Philosophy, or even Reflections on a Philosophy, we wouldn’t be here today barking about whether or not the message was poorly introduced or misinterpreted. The Italian critics have already branded him “Para-Guru”. And while ready to criticize, we may also suspect that some of these are in the process of taking their own proverbial slice of the pie. Business as usual.

In any event, regarding the menus, at this level one tended to have the firm conviction that we all assumed the future would be in plurality. That the more diverse each kitchen was and the less the chefs resembled each other, the richer gastronomy would be. The future, for as much as we’d like to have an influence on it, is indeterminable due to economic, political and social factors that come into the equation as unpredictable conditions. What’s left of Nouvelle Cuisine? Only the culture that created it. But if we are loyal to its spirit, evolution and circumstances will bring about, or rather are bringing about, a rapid transformation. In an intelligent, ever-changing world we should be able to co-exist with those who have considerations different to our own. I only know that we can work for a better gastronomy even with the knowledge that we cannot see what the future of that gastronomy will be. Will there be diversity within globalism? Will it be the Eden, with the inclusion of our African brothers? Will the gourmets disappear and be replaced by…?

I just know that we can work together for an improved gastronomy knowing that the only thing we can accomplish in the endeavor is to enjoy and be joyful, just your own way.


Please send in any questions you might have.