Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I want avant?

Here's an article in the Times about the state of avant garde cooking in America. Some sample dishes they taste:

Ribbons of bison meat filled egg-size indentations in the surface of a horizontal glass tube, the hollow interior of which contained burning sticks of cinnamon.

... a strip of partially dehydrated, butterscotch-coated bacon, arrived dangling like a Wallenda from a teensy trapeze ...

...rushed Altoids instead of mint jelly with lamb and ... lollipops of foie gras encrusted with Pop Rock...

...a peeled, heated grape, still on a sprig, that had been dipped in a peanut pur´┐Że and encased in a thin layer of brioche...


Don't get me wrong; I'd love to eat at one of these places ... once. But check out the attitude of one of these chefs:

"The first person to put steak on a fire - that was novel, right?" Mr. Dufresne said in a telephone conversation. "Was that a gimmick because before that they were just throwing their spears at it and eating it?"

Uh-huh. And that was eight thousand years ago and we're still doing it. Wow, we all must be backwards for eating grilled steak and all the other dishes that developed and perfected over the literal thousands of years during which the major cuisines of the world developed. It's a good thing we have folks dripping butterscotch on bacon to save us from prime rib.

Charlie Trotter has a wicked rebuttal:

"If it's truly valid, I'll be delighted to have this conversation with you in two years."

Boo-yah! Truly interesting innovations can come along ... or, more likely, will migrate from someplace else. Take sushi. In the '80s, eating raw fish was a hip and trendy thing to do. Now, home of John Ashcroft Springfield, Missouri, has six or seven sushi joints. It lasted because sushi is really fucking good. Fondue ... not so much.

And perhaps in a couple hundred years, grandmothers will bake lamb wil Altoids and kids will love them for it. But I doubt it.

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