The Death of Molecular Gastronomy?

Okay, death is likely too harsh a word. Perhaps Fading from prominence is a better descriptor. Over the past few years it it seemed to me that Molecular Gastronomy, like most trends, was more fad than revolution. Lisa Abend over at slate, presents the case for exactly this:

..from the beginning, some critics have scorned a mode of cooking that relies, in their opinion, too heavily on technology (as if an oven weren’t a machine) and often chooses form over substance. Twenty years into (Ferran) Adria’s revolution, those criticisms have only grown. In a recent e-mail, Gerry Dawes, an American expert on Spanish food and wine, wrote, “I am getting a little weary of the Catalan-driven techno-cuisine. Many of these ‘experiments’ would be better off if they didn’t show up anywhere but at chefs’ conferences.” His words sum up the critical attitude: It was fun at first, but enough with the chemistry kit! I’d like some real food now, please.

I always get a little skeptical when people talk about how revolutionary anything is, let alone food. And while I thought porcini cotton candy and raspberry foams were interesting, they felt more of a novelty to me, than something that an average eater would be enthralled with.

The other aspect here is the “Been there, done that”, which Lisa infers in her article. From my own point of view, unless a food is both amazing and readily accessible, I’m simply not going to eat it that much when there are so many other options in dining available. I’ve never been to the top tier places, so perhaps there’s there’s a dish or three that I’ve missed that better represents this genre. But even this implies that it’s the skill of the chef, and not the food itself which is important. This is hardly a lesson that’s new to anyone.

This is not to say that I think that this type of cooking is going away. As the conclusion to the article states, parts of it will take their place into restaurant culture. In the end, it will simple become another option available to consumers, no better, no worse.

What these kinds of food have done is cemented my theory that there is a huge divide between the fans and purveyors of upscale restaurant dining and…well…everyone else. While many people knew and loved the food of Adria and his disciples, exponentially many more have never tried nor even heard of the foods.


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