Posts by: Mugaritzak

Sautéed flowers. Fresh blossoms sautéed with golden codfish

We came upon a bit of good luck the day a friend of ours, Iñigo Segurola of Lur Paisajistak (link si queréis), suggested we use a daylily in a dish. The blossoms of the daylily open with the first light of dawn and drop off the same evening, falling prey to insects and worms.

We gathered them before daylight, when the buds were still closed, and sautéed them as if they were meat. We served them with codfish.

 

To fly

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To fly; to float with a smooth movement, almost imperceptible, through the endless horizons of what might be. To fly; to shed our skin o sprout new wings; to bécame what always will be. To fly; leave ourselves to chance an be guided along the cliff edge of what never would be. To fly; jump into the void lo let the inertia of fate sweep you to what is now.

Soilless teff sprouts. Plant tesserae. A handful of seeds and teff sprouts

Eating up and eating in the garden.

In 2014, after a decade of working with sprouts in the conventional way, Mugaritz began experimenting with making greenery grow on the plate, literally. The idea was to let sprouts grow from seed by only adding water. We chose teff, an Ethiopian grain that needs little soil to grow.

The process consisted of sprinkling water over a handful of seeds that had been poured onto a tray. The tray would be gently shaken until the entire surface was covered with the seeds. Then, over the course of several days, a little more water was sprinkled over the seeds so they would sprout. Once all the seeds had sprouted, the result was a dense green grass. When cut and served on a plate, each piece resembles a tile-like tessera.

The process is long and laborious, but we have been able to serve over 300 portions of this dish at a single event. This is the beginning of a path.

Floral and herb paper

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We wanted to capture an image of the vegetable garden on a handkerchief. So we used obulato paper (made from potato starch) to encase herbs and flowers, creating a sort of crispy stained glass window, a tapestry of bright colours inspired by the farmhouse gardens at Mugaritz.

Altar bread ravioli. Aromatic herb ravioli

Sometimes we serve our customers dishes that require more chewing than usual to get them thinking about how our diet has evolved through the ages. A dentist who was studying evolutionary changes in the human diet observed how these changes led to physiological changes in the human body. Having to chew less means the facial muscles become underused and weakened, eventually leading to changes in the bone structure of the face. What we look like depends on our health and our changing diet.

On this instance, what we asked our customers to chew over and over again like chewing gum was a ravioli pocket made of altar bread and filled with chicken broth and herbs. As it wasn’t easy to separate the casing from the filling, they had no choice but to chew it and swallow it in one go. There were two alternatives: eat it or leave it.

See dish

Vegetable veils. Velvet apple

Time accumulates memories and knowledge so that we are connected to our origin and guide us in the future we want to draw.
20 years is the time Mugaritz has been living in his own ecosystem, 20 years building his own language.
Mugaritz has been sedimenting during these 20 years of experience layers of knowledge and reflection that now, in our XX anniversary, we want to share with our friends.

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There is a certain beauty in decay.

One of the tests we ran in 2013 on the fermentation of foods was with apples. First we peeled the apples and boiled them in syrup. Then we covered the surface with the rhizopus oryzae fungus. In 48 hours, a thin white ‘veil’ had developed all over the apples, giving them a velvety appearance. The veil was a kind of mould that is common in fermented foods. Finally, we put a couple of drops of neat vodka on the velvet surface which gave the dish an ethereal feel.

Natural apple “velvet”

Garoa, my sweet childhood

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I wake up again in the same place, but this time the dream is different. I fell that my vains are burning rivers that swayed me by along the forest’s abbys, a enchanted forest. It is cold here and I can fell the humidity of the moss beneath my feets. And I wake up again. I start running through my memory’s laberint and I return to my sweet childhood.

Everything is burning around me, but the memories are invulnerable to the fire. And I dance on the ashes.

I, tree

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First Mugaritz’s menu (1998)

I, tree,

who shares the ground and wet roots of the sea

with two silent stony lookouts with a double glance

I must tell you that,

under my varying sky, the supplier of green and bluish lives

beings, made from near and far winds, are moving

sending to all the borders of my old gestures;

smells and tastes of friendly products, sounds of an ax

with a soul of linen and cotton

watered with strokes of oil and wine

among the ferns’ whispers and tears from my body

for my pleasure and all of yours’, roamers

of these centuries and of that steep muga.

(Text by: J. Matximbarrena)

 

 

Science and gastronomy, necessary transdisciplinarity

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Kombucha from Mugaritz on Vimeo.

We often talk about interdisciplinarity, this vocation were distinct areas of knowledge come in contact to share problems, concepts and methods in order to contrast points of view. But above all, to enable contexts wherein one may learn from the other. However, if we go a little further, we will find transdisciplinarity, an alternative scheme which allows more than the aforementioned exchange, integrating visions in an inherent framework of collaboration. A common language, vision and means of working is shared.

For many years we have insisted upon promoting dialogue between science and gastronomy. Always bearing in mind how important it is for chefs to adopt the scientific method and to benefit from the knowledge generated from research. In addition, it has become increasingly clear that the kitchen provides a unique environment for experimentation and learning. Although building bridges between these two worlds is not without difficulty, we should continue in our endeavors.

This interaction brings about as many challenges as opportunities. This was the subject of analysis of the 31st edition EFFOST, the annual conference staged by the European Federation of Food Science and Technology  which this year was held in Sitges in which our team, AZTI and the BCC took part along many experts from all over the world.

We reflect upon the collaboration between science and gastronomy from different perspectives. As explained by Ramon Perisé (Mugaritz) and Diego Prado (BCC) in the research collaborations about kombucha, uncommon and interesting live matter which can be used to study relevant chemical phenomena for scientists. For the chefs, however, kombucha may become an edible element with an increased organoleptic value and multiple culinary applications. Aligning these perspectives is the first step. The next step may be transdisciplinarity. This is was the subject of the roundtable moderated by the chef Dani Lasa.

Kombucha.
Strawberries and cream. PHOTO: José Luis López de Zubiría.

In this conversation, the american scientist Larissa Zhou (a collaborator of Modernist Cuisine) invite us to think of science as a tale or stories. She suggested using gastronomy as a tool to communicate that story, considering people tend to regard their everyday eating costumes as something pleasant. “Neither the scientific methodology nor the traditional format of a recipe guarantees that people will cook better. Nor will it guarantee that they will understand better what is happening. Building new mean of communication is part of the commitment we must give”, she said.

According to Erik Fooladi (Volda University, Collegem Norway), science can survive without gastronomy and viceversa. However, only if they work together they will achieve relevant progress in the way we eat and the way think about processes of our normal functioning.

The chef Jozef Youssef (The Kitchen Theory), pointed out the need to view gastronomy as a context in which the knowledge generated through research can be contrasted in a real everyday environment. “Applying what scientists understand from their studies in the everyday conditions of a restaurant requires a significant effort, specially because the results are not always the expected ones given that one can not control both material and psychological variables. But this is the challenge what we are attracted to as chefs.” remarked the founder of The Kitchen Theory.

If we agree upon one thing, it is how stimulating it can be not only to convey the creativity and emotion of chefs with the curiosity and methods of scientists, but also to get to the point where all share the same appetite, and consequently, take the same path to satisfy it.

On the edge of entropy.

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El asesino de la vanguardia. from Mugaritz on Vimeo.

Where is the line between order and disorder? And between comfort and discomfort? Why should we respect a prestablished order? Why don’t we open the door to chaos?

In this universe, en uncontrollable impulse often leads to disorder and instability. These forces which upset our balance are the origin of what we are today. But when chaos irrupts we inevitably try to put an order to it.

Mugaritz finds itself at the crossroad between order and disorder. The path between both concepts, skirting entropy, leads us to find what we didn’t even know we were looking for. While experimenting with the unexplored chance brought us a fruit which wanted to become a bird- Kiwi mushroom and peppers – or a beignet of saffron in honor of Michel Bras. His coulant reflect the chef’s struggle to tame the chaos of chocolate when subjected to different temperatures.

“If order is the pleasure of reason, disorder is the delight of imagination” said the French poet Paul Cladel. This is why, when we ally with chaos we imagine a new order. If we remove the elements which tipically order an experience such as cutlery or the categories of a menu we are presented with a blank canvas. Together with our dinners we hope to create a space where we feel free to engage with the dish with all our senses. We turn disorder into a stage where another future can be rehearsed.