The Mugaritz maestro holds forth on the basic liquid that never features in recipes
Andoni Luis Aduriz rounded off a Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión Congress which has now come of age. The Mugaritz maestro did not do any cooking, and merely used his half-hour talk to reflect on the meaning of dishes and his philosophy, along with a video presentation to demonstrate the magic his restaurant creates. “Sometimes people think we’re a nuisance at Mugaritz, but what we do is to be the way we are.
We don’t want to be a nuisance, and what we do is look for new ideas”, explained Aduriz. In that vein, one day when he was cooking he chanced on “strange ideas” such as life and death or the passage of time, which were not there before. But in these culinary beginnings water was always present. “It’s a part of every recipe and every process, but we never mention it as an ingredient.
We attach no importance to it”, said the Donostia chef. Water “generates an opportunity”, which became “an obsession”. And the outcome is an offering, the ‘Sigh of water’ which is “the essence of the essence of the essence of Mugaritz”. With the image on screen, the chef bluntly told the auditorium, the faithful who had turned up “for mass”: “You must be thinking I’m crazy, but I might just be crazy”. Another of these ideas came to him on the Greek island of Santorini, after a visit to the vineyards and olive groves which still exist there and are calling out for a generational change in their operators. Aduriz decided to caramelise black olives in a machine which “originally only fermented tubers”. “Make a note of that, Begoña”, he said to the chef at La Salita. Aduriz then added a little cocoa, pumpkin and thyme to the olives.
He also announced that this year he was going to downsize the wine list. “We’re going to have a market cellar in the same way as we have market food. If we have two bottles, then two bottles it is. If we have three, then we share them and that’s that”, he said, before starting into a round of questions. “How old is an eel when we eat it? Two to three years old. And a spring lamb? About 21 days. How about a chicken? About 45 days. And what about an oyster? Is it alive or dead when we eat it?”, asked Aduriz, who also gave the answers, reserving the doubt until the end: could we eat a live eel? His idea is a live eel in a capsule. “The most “trans” (ground-breaking) idea this year”, admitted the chef. And finally, a sweet dish with hedgehog. “This is also a line-crosser at a restaurant that doesn’t stereotype itself as just being a restaurant”, he added.
Then he showed the audience some wraps made from honey, flowers and “ultraclean” baby squid, before bringing an end to another Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión Congress.