Rafael García Santos

Arzak and the pudding of … what?

Arzak “created” the pudding of krabarroka (scorpionfish), his most famous recipe, in the early seventies. Since then, he hasn’t been able to do anything better. According to this “bolero-wearing” cook (no one has hardly ever seen him cooking), he would have been inspired by a bar located in the Old Quarter of San Sebastian, Astelena, in which hake cake was served. He might have not read enough … Juan Mari has always been an extremely lazy man who used to spend most of his time on the phone in order to “condition intentions”; a man who lived in Madrid for free, making the most of the system, and who, with the same nerve, is now appropriating a chef’s hat just to appear on the picture. Instead of being “inspired” by books, Juan Mari was inspired by a bar. From the early 20th century on, all the recipe books contain some recipes of hake cake. So, what has been Jose Mari’s contribution to the dish? Changing the type of fish. A whole historic change … Anything else? Yes, a bit of cream, according the French doctrine –Well done, master, well done! This is the way Arzak’s most famous recipe was born, in fact.
The truth is that I have tasted it around thirty times, garnished with an amazing lucidity: a lettuce leaf filled with two spoonfuls mayonnaise. What a great chef you are, Juan Mari! After, he proposed the dish as an appetizer. Before and after their visit, the guests always wonder about the same thing: Does this taste like Krabarroka? What does this cake taste like? Nobody has been able to answer yet. This is the way the ………………………………………………………………..began.

Complete with the most appropriate word.

What began? …………………………………………………………………………….

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Picture taken in 1986 in Restaurante Arzak

Has anybody ever seen Arzak cooking?
Has any of the hundreds young people who worked as trainees at Arzak’s restaurant ever seen Juan Mari cooking? Has any of the cooks who received Arzak’s restaurant at their house for some event ever seen Juan Mari cooking? Has any of the attendees to some gastronomic congress ever seen Juan Mari cooking? Has anybody seen Juan Mari cooking in any TV programme?
Don’t laugh, please. This is a serious matter.


The Restaurant: Arzak and Elena: 2 for 1

Fantasy or reality?
This year, Belén Esteban (bullfighter Jesulín’s ex-wife) ‘s favourite magazine has presented another scoop. On the front page: “Arzak, eighth in the world, is a whole success at the Eurovision contest: Juan Mari gets the well-deserved Award for the Best professional career and Elena gets the Bronze Medal of the Best Female Chefs. Which is the subliminal message? “The daughter inherits her dad” or “Like father, like daughter”? Arzak and Ansón, Ansón and Arzak; this is all about cooking things up. Together in the Basque Culinary Center; a den of … After this lollipop, the last thing we need now is them to propose a shot of Pop Rocks water to make us gargle.


The Restaurant: Arzak “tries to intimidate us” 
We are not going to discuss if Noma, El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz are indeed the first, second and third best restaurants in the world. What is clear is that the list reflects some interests that are determined by a kingdom of maharajahs. In Spain, these interests are controlled by Rafael Ansón and Juan Mari Arzak. Judging by the results, in other countries, the list seems to be manipulated by specific cooks and their critics. It is so outrageous that Le Chateaubriand, a Parisian bistrot rated 6,5/10, turns to be the best restaurant in France and one of the top 10 best restaurants in the world. Isn’t that funny? And this is only one example among many others. Our opinion is very clear: this ranking is conditioned by the Press Offices of determined cooks, by their connections and their business. From here, from Brazil, from Mexico, from South-Africa, from India, … they are able to sell Gastronomic Polynesia to the world.
After this editorial was published, Arzak called me on my personal phone to “intimidate me” (the conversation has been recorded) and to tell me that I was not allowed to talk about him and his actions. Dear Juan Mari, the fact you introduced “nouvelle cuisine” in Spain is a major merit on your favour, I admit, but the fact remains that you have embodied a major manipulation of Spanish cuisine for the last decades. If you want to talk about it, we can start mentioning your acquaintance with the mayor of San Sebastian, Odón Elorza, and with the connections between Rafael Ansón and the government through minister Joan Mesquida –a real “big shot” … Sooner or later, we’ll see what happens. We can also talk about the way all this hotchpotch results in the Basque Culinary Center (7 millions euros subsidy. I insist: 7 millions euros subsidy), in which you reward Ansón for the services provided.
Do you fancy going on talking about it? About you and other cooks of your kind who milk the system dry and manipulate it …