Much like other food nerds, I love food (and wine) cookbooks. Much like how teenage girls gobble stuff up about vampires (Buffy is so much better), food geeks are voracious with food books. And why not? They provide solid insight, light the spark of inspiration, and provide a level of information and complexity that we love. Even the famed David Chang of Momofuku fame goes nuts over cookbooks. Whenever I visit bookstores, I always swing by the food section to see what’s new and soak in the visual merchandising. One book really caught my eye; Ferran Adria’s new book with Richard Hamilton and Vicent Tolodi, Food for Thought, Thought for Food. Adria’s new book? Heck yes.
Ferran Adria is in the conversation of the best chefs in the world. His restaurant, El Bulli, is often considered the best restaurant in the world. Stepping into the lore and detail of these two things is something that I always find fascinating. I soaked up that TV show where Tony Bourdain was able to step into the kitchen of El Bulli. I looked forward to the release of A Day at El Bulli, the Phaidon book that illustrated the inner workings of Adria’s restaurant. Now I have another resource to pull back the curtain of Ferran Adria.
But this book is a bit different than A Day at El Bulli or his El Bulli cookbooks, Food for Thought, Thought for Food is more of a long look at the discussion of the art of El Bulli and Ferran Adria. Surely it’s about the food and the experience of the restaurant, but this book is a bit more editorial and written with the perspective of food as art. It’s quite interesting and beautiful book to look at. Much of the essays throughout the book are written by artists and their experience at El Bulli. This was an interesting perspective; take the creative world of artists and put them into a restaurant that looks at food from another angle.
A big part of the book was about Adria’s controversial inclusion into the renowned Documenta art series in 2007. Documenta 12 was the specific art series and the book covers Adria’s role in art quite well. But his part in Documenta 12 was controversial because many in the art world didn’t feel that food and a chef in Spain should be included. But for the food world, we do think that food can be art. Food can elevate an experience and influence an audience emotionally; this is indeed artful. This is my two cents, put ingredients in to the hands of a talent like Ferran Adria, food can be art.
Wrapping it up, Food for Thought, Thought for Food is a really interesting and beautiful book. It catalogs most of the dishes that have come from the El Bulli kitchen; from the early 90s to 2008. It discusses the El Bulli philosophy and the 12 dishes that are important to its evolution. While not a traditional cookbook, this is one that can provide a bit of discussion; from the subject matter to the ideal that food as art, any food lover would be taken with this book. And the cover is freaking awesome.