When it comes to eating, I want the real deal. I like my main courses to be dinosaur-like barbeque ribs that don’t fit on my plate, not a selection of sauce droplets, frothing spume and petals. I like to see what I eat and I like to eat what I know.
With certain pleasures in life, it’s better to have less than more. When travelling, for example, I don’t like to spend more than five hours in a car or a plane. In my flat, I’d rather have a modest living room than a Rococo one, and I prefer to swim my laps in an empty pool. But if we’re talking about food, give me it all.
It seems that today chefs around the world are confusing fashionable dishes with scarcity, hiding behind the nouvelle, the molecular and the organic cuisines to serve fractioned portions. What is it with tight restaurants serving foams instead of thick sauces, infusions rather than soups, spheres as an alternative to fruits? I don’t want my food to vanish into ether before I can even pick it up and put it in my mouth, I want to taste the crunchiness of my veggies and the tenderness of my meat. If I’m not sick, I don’t want to eat hospital food. Who told restaurants that chugging down a foie gras from a shooter glass or eating a liquid ravioli from an oversized porcelain spoon made them fancy?
And I don’t mean I like mine to be super-sized combo meals. It’s just that one can’t appreciate something that is sparse. Imagine walking into a museum exhibiting only one small painting per room, or attending a symphonic concert with only a tenth of the orchestra – you would surely demand a refund at the ticket desk. So why aren’t we complaining when we get a slice of pork roulade and a dollop of purée fit for a newborn? Why are we pretending to be philosophical while trying to balance jellified beetroot on our forks?
When I walk into a restaurant I do it hungry, expecting to have an inspiring starter that gets my mouth going, followed by a main course that leaves me full and a sorbet to clean my palate just before a double-espresso nails the feast. As colourful and creative a molecular dish might look when set on the table, if it doesn’t leave me needing a walk around the neighbourhood after dessert, then I pass. There’s nothing gourmand about having to eat a pack of crisps after a Michelin-starred meal.
So why are we sacrificing the flavours and goodness of food for minimalistic presentations in the name of modernist cuisine? What ever happened to the traditional cooking styles? For centuries, humans have preferred to rip the flesh off an animal’s bone instead of chomping on the fine petals of begonias.
Dear chefs; unless it’s for the purpose of enhancing my steak’s flavour, please leave the flowers in the pot.