Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking Hardcover – Apr 27 2012
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"Pretty much everything one might ask for from an Important Restaurant Cookbook. . .Striking." - Eater.com
"This is a must have book for anyone interested in fine dining, avant-garde cuisine, creativity, and food culture." - The Huffington Post
". . .gorgeous and mesmerizing. . ." - Kate Krader for Food & Wine
". . .lush and deeply inspiring. . ." - The Globe & Mail
"You may not have an immersion circulator, or keep natural black carbonized vegetable dye in your pantry or leafy goosefoot shoots in the vegetable drawer, but. . .the text and 70 recipes will be an inspiration to anyone who is curious." - New York Magazine
"A book for both food and art lovers." - The Huffington Post
About the Author
Andoni Aduriz is one of Spain's most talented and innovative chefs. Having trained under Ferran Adria at elBulli, he is widely recognized as one of Ferran's most talented protegees and the chef at the vanguard of Spain's culinary future.
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The first third of this book is a must-read on the history, philosophy, process, and style of Mugaritz. It shows how the restaurant's dishes constantly fluctuate based on seasonality, how ideas form and are developed, and how the restaurant itself functions.
The rest of the book are recipes from the restaurant, and while there are 70-some recipes, one gets the feeling (and rightly so) that this is only a tiny sliver of a glimpse into the food of Mugaritz. The photography is beautiful and simple, with white plates always washed out into a blank white page, leaving just a small simple shot of the food itself in the middle of the page. The dishes are equally simple in presentation; few components with clear focus on the main ingredient.
While this is a stunning and lovely book, I do have a couple qualms about it. This book belongs in the league of the Alinea, Fat Duck, Quay, Noma, and Eleven Madison Park cookbooks. It is lovely and really almost a book of art. However, it seems the least approachable of all of these. In the back of the book, the reader is cautioned that the recipes are best attempted by experienced cooks, but the larger challenge seems to be acquiring the ingredients. There are food science ingredients that one familiar with Alinea and the Fat Duck will be completely unfamiliar with. There are other vegetables and leaves that lovers of Noma will be stumped by. While one could salute Mugaritz for highlighting such obscure and rare ingredients, it does limit its functionality as a "cookbook." While many of the cookbooks in this league are daunting and complex, many still have recipes that are worth attempting (even at home), but even as a professional chef, I found many of the Mugaritz recipes surprisingly complex.
This book is, nonetheless, a must for chefs and foodies who appreciate the art of fine cookbooks.
the first part of the book delves into the philosophy, history and perspective of Aduriz's kitchen and cooking style, and unlike most other chef/restaurant books, Aduriz keeps it short, concise and to the point, there are also short stories that relate to certain dishes and how they came about which is also helpful because it gives you an idea of how the chef's mind works and how he approaches thematic cuisine. There are also short discussion on front of the house choreography a custom made soundtrack for the restaurant, the "dining path" of the average Mugaritz diner, historical menu setups and back of the house duties that go on every night at this three michelin starred restaurant, and again it's concise but not wordy and gets to the point, found it very interesting.
Quality wise it's another hit from Phaidon, technically very similar to Noma but without the annoying indexes that make you have to turn to the recipes in the back, here the recipes and photos are together like most other high end cookbooks. Photography is excellent and makes Aduriz's austere style really stand out. Paper quality and binding are excellent as the books are printed in Italy. The cover is embossed with the stone texture shown on the cover. There are two tassles sewn into the binding as bookmarks.
Keep in mind, the style of Aduriz's cooking is very austere (even more than the "monk" the late Alain Chapel) there are some recipes that call for only two ingredients not including salt, pepper and olive oil, Aduriz pairs down his recipes to the most essential parts. The only problem with this approach is that for the average home cook, access to equipment Aduriz uses to extract flavors, make stocks and distillates cost tens of thousands of dollars. For the professional chef the techniques are a great reference and a study in simplicity and excellent quality ingredients (many of the stocks and jus are made in a gastrovac or in an immersion circulator and most only contain the said ingredient). Obviously when most recipes in the book have no more than 10 ingredients it's a given that the raw materials must be of the highest quality and in season.
Overall a great book which for the first time has some recipes from "Clorofilia" finally in English. For the hardcore foodie and professional in the know.
Buy it now!
Secondly, the influence of Ferran Adria is apparent throughout the text. Anduriz appears to have taken to heart both the extreme creativity and evolutionary approach of his mentor. It is apparent, however, that he has infused this with his own personality and abundant talent. Like Adria's El Bulli books, the first section of the book deals with his philosophy and approach to both cuisine and his diners. It also documents the evolution of new approaches over the time period 1998 to 2001. This includes which processes and techniques were added each year. For example, in 2006 they added impregnation sous vide, and rheology studies (the science behind edible bubbles). Dishes in the book that demonstrate each of these techniques are listed. Like Heston Blumenthal, Aduriz works with scientists to understand and evolve processes or sensory experiences and puts this to use in his recipes. To give an idea of the scale of the introduction, the first recipe only appears on page 94.
Now onto the recipes themselves. While many can be created in a more conventional kitchen, others are unashamedly modernist requiring (at times) access to a sous vide setup or combi-oven, a thermomix, a roto-vap, etc as well as a range of kitchen chemicals (xanthan gum, calcium oxide, pectin, and so on). Rather than making these appear exotic, Anduriz follows the tradition of many contemporary chefs and incorporates the techniques and equipment into his cooking as a matter of fact. I think this indicates an answer to the question of where modernist cuisine is heading. Not to obscurity as many suggest but more towards the mainstream as an element central to many chefs' everyday restaurant cooking.
This is a book that can be used by someone with quite advanced cooking skills and a willingness to undertake a number of different processes to create a dish. It is very much a restaurant rather than a home cookbook. The flavour combinations are exciting and delicate but be warned: this is a book of degustation-style and sized dishes. While these dishes could be placed at various stages within a conventional type meal schedule, making a complete dinner with them would require the creation of a number of complex dishes, which would be difficult to achieve in a home situation cooking by yourself. My preference would be to use individual dishes as either an appetiser, entree, or dessert in combination with other, more substantial, dishes.
In all, this is a welcome addition to the cooking library of advanced chefs who are comfortable using a wide range of cooking processes, including some that fit under the modernist category.
It's also a marvellous book to read and drool over the food pictures.
If you're interested in what has been going on at Mugaritz, or if you enjoy similar books such as the Noma or Eleven Madison Park cookbooks, I would strongly recommend this one as well.
But even the most experienced professional chef will have trouble duplicating, or even approaching duplication of, the "recipes." For two reasons: sourcing/fabricating the ingredients, required equipment running well into 5 figures.
However, it's definitely a book worth having. It will spark dreams!