You aren’t going to cook from this book, in fact it’s probably the case that very few people ever will. If you could, and did, then you’d be a chef of the same skill as Juan Mari Arzak and, like Highlander, there can be only one.
Actually there are in fact two, Juan’s daughter Elena was voted best female chef in the world in 2012 and they work together most of the time.
Juan is also often said to be father of Modern Spanish Cuisine, the man who in the 1970s began the remapping of Spain’s culinary landscape and prepared the way for chefs such as Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame.
That said the Arzak’s cuisine at their restaurant, never far from the top three in the world, is actually rooted in their beloved Basque country In this book, translated from the Spanish for the first time, are their recipes, their creations and a behind the scenes look at what drives their creativity.
Ingredients, techniques and information about what is as much a food laboratory as a kitchen, fill every gorgeously photographed page. That some of the recipes, the naming and the intentions seem a little silly now is not Arzak’s fault; food fashion moves on after all.
Metal soup (with silver powder) Apple Kefir (with atomised fruits), do come across as a bit de trop, but it’s important to remember that just as the crazy fashions on the catwalk influence the High Street, so Arzak’s cuisine can today be found influencing even the humblest restaurant, Techniques and methods being used in a back room in Bermondsey have come all the way from the Basque country. Even if the chefs probably don’t know it.
This book is something delicious to read; Arzak’s thoughts are poetic as well as scientific and his musings on art, life and food well worth considering. It’s a book for anyone interested in the evolution of cooking and where we are today.
And if you do find yourself trying to recreate The Deer’s Footprints, well good luck and don’t say you weren’t warned.
Publisher: Grub Street Publishing