The Basque culinary maestro continues his exploration of introducing molds into food to create novel sensory experiences, often challenging the comfort of familiar flavors.
There are chefs who ride culinary trends, and then there are those who stir the liquid mirror of food, creating entirely new ones and pushing them to uncharted depths, where invisible currents swirl. Andoni Luis Aduriz falls into the latter category, as he has been working with molds and the associated sensation of disgust for quite some time, teetering his guests on the edge of the inedible and inducing destabilizing vertigo.
The prequel was the slice of brioche bread from 2014, inoculated with what seemed to be its own cheese, the famous pan azul (blue bread) later filled with anchovies. The sequel was the 2017 sinful apple, cooked in quicklime, infused with lactose, and inoculated with spores, served atop a velvety orange and bergamot filling. These dishes have become not only part of the avant-garde but also the entire culinary world.
The idea, as explained on the Mugaritz website, is to employ the ancestral technique of fermentation, which involves transforming and decontextualizing, all within the controlled environment of a research and development laboratory. Through the enzymes released (bacteria, yeasts, fungi), they journey from the known to the brink of the unimaginable, gaining depth and complexity, sometimes bordering on the putrid or even the "dead." Among the various techniques employed is the inoculation of penicillium roqueforti or candidum, initiated in 2015, despite the challenge of introducing guests to new dimensions familiar only to a select few culinary "nerds." Fortunately, the shared reference point of cheese, whether it's blue or bloomy-rinded, acts as a communication code.
Initially, the goal was to obtain spores suitable for culinary use, thanks to the Arroyos Laboratory in Cantabria, which continues to supply the restaurant, ensuring maximum safety. Then came the experiments, sparking a creative streak that might evoke repulsion but, for the chef, represents a strong stimulus for contemplation and creativity. Mold and decay take on unsettling and provocative forms, which, unexpectedly, reveal sensory allure in the mouth. A range of Unidentified Food Objects (UFOs) that continue to disrupt the slumbering world of food, right up to the latest tasting experience.
Dishes photos: @José Luis Lopez de Zubirìa
Chef's photos: @Alex Iturralde