October 3, 2018
Andoni Luís Aduriz, a strategy of disrupture
If there is anything that Aduriz likes, it’s controversy. The cook at Mugaritz relishes every discrepancy, every disagreement. ‘I love it,’ he whispers when diners become incensed after being presented with dishes like his nunca-digas-nunca onion [literally, ‘never-say-never onion’: a half-onion softened with enzymes, an Idiazábal cheese whey, potato, and a very strong meat stock]. He is like a bullfighter from this past century, whose supporters and detractors are lined up in irreconcilable rows. Aduriz has divided the nation of cuisine into two factions: those who are unconditionally for and those who are opposed. This is nothing strange for someone who, one day uttered the sensational and solemn words which, from anyone else, would sound like an epitaph: ‘I have decided to not be liked.’
He achieved it. There is no foodie social gathering where his name does not crop up over coffee, where his effort to go against the flow is not talked about. For years, this strategy of disrupture has traversed the subtle space found between provocation and disillusionment. But he is delighted. ‘At Mugaritz we work with a huge burden of ingenuity, of humour. If it weren’t for these doses of absurdity, this project would have killed us...,’ he boasts, with a fire extinguisher at hand to put out the flames.
This season, he has managed to generate more talk about wine (to describe the parade of labels and bottles – served by Guillermo Cruz and his team – that appear to have emerged from the cellar of a drunken antiques dealer) than his dishes. Another way to create controversy.
Between so much roguishness and so much significance, Andoni Luís Aduriz (San Sebastián, 1971) never fails to surprise; young culinary students shower him with the kind of glowing acclaim that you’d expect rock stars and visionaries to get. This might give us an idea of where his preferences are headed: young ground-breakers are more comfortable with provocation than with a clear-cut Cartesian style of cooking.
For them, a guy with no qualms about serving a frozen wafer with a brushstroke of aïoli for the communion of his devotees, who prepares a tongue of ice that you have to suck in a suggestive way, who serves you musty bone marrow from an Iberico-ham bone, or an onion that sears your palate like a gouge will always be the fucking best. Andoni the subversive.
By Julián Méndez