Molecular gastronomy has never quite caught on here in the U.S.; apart from a handful of superstars in Chicago and New York, most Americans only know about it from failed Top Chef contestants. But even in Spain, where it originated, the movement is no longer the hot thing it once was. Or is it? Lisa Abend’s essay in Slate makes the case for MG having jumped the shark, but the lazy arguments — reporters are tired of writing about it, its methods are now too well known — are actually red herring. Abend’s point is that modern Spanish food, as she calls it, isn’t going anywhere, any more than nouvelle cuisine disappeared when its most laughable extremes were widely mocked. “What lies at its heart is not a particular dish — not even the emblematic foam. Rather, it’s a spirit — a vigorous, often intellectual search for new flavors that takes place not just in gardens and pantries but in landscapes and art exhibitions and, yes, in the laboratory.” That, we think, is the heart of the dispute. The MG crowd believes in new flavors. Traditional cooks don’t. For our part, we’ll admit that there are new flavors. It’s just that we like the old ones better.
Ferran Adrià and his capsulized olive oil.