Friday, October 7, 2011



KATE: I wish there was a cookbook for life, you know? With recipes telling us exactly what to do. I know. I know. You’re gonna say “How else can we learn, Kate?”
THERAPIST: Mm. No, actually I wasn’t going to say that. You wanna guess again?
KATE: Oh, no, go ahead.
THERAPIST: Well, what I was going to say was, you know better than anyone. It’s the recipes you create yourself that are the best.
                         —No reservations, 2007, Scott Hicks.

LET ME TELL YA, eating is a very complex thing.

I can’t stand parsley. I don’t like salt cod. But I love salt cod croquettes with parsley.

I don’t like cooked carrots, but raw. I don’t like raw tuna, but cooked.

All right, take your time. Laugh at me as much as you want, though it’s not me who said that blatant statement but Ferran Adrià, the most creative chef in the world. I say creative because you don’t go to El Bulli to have a meal but an experience.

I would have loved to explain you my experience in Cala Montjoi, yet unfortunately I haven’t been one of the eight thousand privileged diners from all over the world that passed by El Bulli year after year.

I have read extensively about him. I listened to him at the New York City Wine & Food Festival at The Times Center, courtesy of a dear friend of mine, last Saturday. However, I missed the most important: to taste one of his creations.

El Bulli Foundation will reopen his doors in two years. I guess that since they are not admitting reservations anymore, I might have a chance. Just sayin’. Anyway, at the meantime, I will try to cook an exquisite dish inspired by the luminary creator, called Success.


*Caramelized Passion
*Liquefied Courage
*Emulsifying Creativity
*Foamy Stamina
*Spherified Visibility
*Frozen Humility
*Airy Chance

Passion isn’t a product easy to find. It requires conciousness and self-knowledge. One is able to recognize that has passion about something when in the task neither look at her watch for long hours, nor need a policeman behind to keep seated at the desk, but when gets involved in what the psychology professor Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called flow.

To caramelize it requires lots of hard work, tons of very hard work. Suffice it to say, Ferran worked 17 hours a day, 345 days a year. Alles Klar tyros? And once it’s caramelized, it’s so sweet that you want to share it. Ferran is as generous as he’s given his recipes and culinary techniques to everyone.

The issue with this product is when you find it out. Some, as Ferran, at their twenties; others, at their thirties, or even later. If it takes you longer to find it out, pour more gallons of liquefied Courage.

For emulsifying Creativity, mix confidence, self-respect, and freedom. Ferran knew he was doing something right. He actually allowed himself to play as children do: with total freedom, in spite of inner and outer conditionings—Ferran has been called charlatan, pretentious, bogus, and even harshly accused of endangering the health of his customers through the use of additives. I got to thinking that revolutionary people will never be totally understood in their time but a hundred years later. And finally he gave to himself permission to make mistakes, experimenting, learning, growing, and evolving.

Surround the dish with great deal of foamy stamina. Ferran explains that he had been struggling for fifteen years at El Bulli, almost nobody went.1 But he took advantatge of that free time by working, exploring, and growing. He never, never, never gave up. His mission was not to have fame, but to have fun. And when you have fun, why to quit?
Of course, Ferran had to be creative in order to survive. He and his team worked on his first volume “El Bulli. El sabor del Mediterráneo,” and in an outside catering years later.

The out-of-the-way restaurant needed just one paramount ingredient. The pure essence of  visibility was enclosed by The New York Times in late summer of 2003 in the front cover of its Sunday magazine “The Nueva Nouvelle Cuisine: How Spain become the New France.”
That’s it. The spherified visibility created the myth.
And the El Bulli hung a placard at its façade: Two-year waiting list, if lucky. The last years El Bulli experimented a tsunami of people each year yearning begging to dine in.

The challenge is to keep a frozen humility—in terms of keep learning and growing—from the day you start searching for the products until the prepared dish will be served.

When some people become a superstar, celebrity, whatever, they start behaving as Divas/Divos. I have heard Ferran saying a thousand of times, “I am a normal person. It’s impossible to learn about cuisine.” And he actually is a normal person. But he’s a normal person who excels in preparing the current dish.

We are not able to see the last ingredient. Call it luck, call it fate, call it airy chance, you name it.

What if Ferran’s parents had obliged him to study a career?
What if his first job had been at a front office bank instead of at a kitchen as a clean-up guy?
What if Dr. Schilling had not sold the restaurant to him?
What if Ferran had not endured privation for so long?

Would he still have become the best chef in the world?

Cook Duration: A lifetime.

Bon Appetite!

(1) “Life has many ways of testing a person’s will , either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happens all at once.” The winner stands alone, Paulo Coelho.

Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN  STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.