The aims of the Spanish cuisine

The question presents itself, considering the achievements made in Spanish cuisine on the international level: what are the medium-term goals that should be set (and met) for the future? In recent years, thanks to the phenomenon of Ferran Adrià and “El Bulli”, the celebrity of Spanish cuisine has considerably increased and, more importantly, is now revered by both professionals and gourmets as the global culinary vanguard. Of course, this consideration is only reserved for a small elite within the gastronomic circle – those special few who are conscientious of the fundamental influence this conceptual and technical evolution has had on thousands of chefs who admire what the genius of Roses and others are accomplishing. And although the break in Spanish cuisine cannot be traced to a single person, regardless of how important and transcendental he may be in history, the truth is that without Adrià’s work as a reference and medium, Spanish gastronomy on a whole would not have advanced to such a stage, nor would it enjoy such a prestigious reputation.
Nonetheless, the contemporary cuisine practiced by the more distinguished Spanish chefs hasn’t reached the general population. As always, those select few who continue to open the finest restaurants in New York and Tokyo, Moscow and Beijing, are still French and Italian and, of course, Japanese. We’re talking about a few hundred professionals from these two European countries that have established themselves in the super-capitals around the world, or at least those who direct these haughty establishments. Alongside these and other businesses within the French and Italian culinary field, there is also a buoyant, advanced, transalpine food industry established in the U.S., Japan and other wealthy nations.
So why isn’t Spain as important of a gastronomic force as Italy and France? Undoubtedly because Spain’s culinary grandeur is far more recent – up until a few years back haute cuisine with personality didn’t exist on the Iberian Peninsula. To be perfectly frank: there was neither the money nor the culture to sustain such an array of prestigious restaurants in yesteryear. Even today the gastronomic profit per capita is decidedly less in Spain than in France and Italy; it suffices to make a simple comparison of something like champagne consumption, for example. This gastronomic welfare is as much about money spent dining out as the number of qualified chefs that work to move the profession forward. And these professionals, perhaps due to a lack of offers from outside Spain, or because they are satisfied with their business as is, or due to a lack of ambition, or simply for the love of the land… remain within our borders. For these and many other arguments, including a lack of exportation from the Spanish food industry (regarding both select products and otherwise), we have still not managed to conquer the global gastronomic arena.
The olive oils get better, the wine improves… there is a general spirit of betterment in both the preparation and marketing of Spanish products. And, if along with this qualitative increase the culinary philosophy of the last few years is preserved, paving the way for a general heightened cultural awareness at all levels of the food industry, this gastronomic revolution with end up carving out a very honorable place for Spanish cuisine in the world. The fact of the matter is Spain has twenty-some-odd brilliant chefs continuing to build for the future. If Ferran Adrià maintains his creative vitality; if Martín Berasategui continues with his unshakable perfectionism; if Quique Dacosta consecrates the artistic talent he has been demonstrating; if no one stands in the way of progress… if we manage to incorporate a half-dozen thirty-somethings into the realm of Spanish cuisine… in short, if we maintain the idealism, ambition and forward motion that has characterized the most recent era, the knowledge of these few specialists will end up being the “vox populi”. At the end of the day, Spain is home to the most evolved cuisine in the world, and some of the best chefs to be found anywhere on the planet. All in due time, as they say.