Deconstructed Food ; Why Didn't I Think of it First?
While we may never know who specifically made the first "Deconstructed" dinner in a restaurant, Spain claims to have mastered this and brought it to an art form.
What is "deconstruction"? According to the Food Network "Deconstruction," a term coined by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, that refers to a style of literary analysis where text is analyzed closely and dismantled into independent parts that, though they work in the context of, say, a paragraph, may contradict each other in and of themselves. Essentially, it's a way at looking at the individual parts of a commonly-accepted whole, and how they interact with each other outside that whole.
So? One might ask, and your point is? Well, as deconstruction hit its stride, it was applied to anything, not just text. In the course of events restaurants started serving "deconstructed" food; that is, sums of parts: like the deconstructed Caesar salad (stacked romaine lettuce, an anchovy, an egg yolk, and some shaved Parmesan, in separate heaps on a plate),
One can read all about the extravagance that has overtaken food that is or has been deconstructed. Probably the strangest is the deconstructed wine that was prepared. The accompanying photo says it all: Don't ask for the reasons this was done, because I cannot tell you a single one.
Paul Bocuse, a prominent French chef, waxes eloquent about the Spanish superstar chef Adri as follows:
"He is doing the most exciting things in our profession today." Adria himself says that what he hates most is monotony. To avoid boredom, he deconstructs food. That is, he experiments with tastes, temperatures, and textures to present diners with exactly what they most do not expect from whatever they ordered. Imagine ordering a churrasco steak with chimichurri, for instance. What arrives at the table is a mound of quivering hot garlic/parsley Jello squares topped with cold beef-flavored ice cream. Or beef foam. (Anything with protein in it -- eggs or dairy as well as meat -- can be emulsified and aerated into foam.) Foams are especially big in the world of deconstructed food. In Barcelona kitchens for the past half-dozen years, spuma siphons have been as vital as stoves.
Sounds great? Given the terrible food we have had in many restaurants, I cannot believe that this fellow Adrià is so bored with making real food (to use a term coined by food writer and cook Nigel Slater), that he has been reduced to foams and sparkles. Upon thinking about it though it is brilliant move on his part. While he may not grill a piece of meat to your liking, or make a very good Osso Buco, he can make great foam. Something no one actually tasted before he made them. By definition his foam is good. Tough to argue with that logic.
After thinking of this for a while we decided to try it at home. So when my first deconstructed breakfast was placed in front of my wife she knew exactly what it was. After all, a slice of bread with a hole in the middle, topped by a whole egg, still in the shell, could be nothing other than what we call a "Gas House Fried Egg". Similarly, desert that night was an unpeeled banana accompanied by an unpeeled orange. You guessed it! Fruit Salad. The deconstructed turkey soup was a bit more difficult, but eventually was accomplished. How can one not know that a pile of chopped turkey, a bowl of water, heaps of carrots and onions and celery was not turkey soup? Another creation was deconstructed bread: flour, water, salt and yeast neatly piled on a plate.
Since we make wine and olive oil, we have already planned our own version of deconstructed wine and oil for next season We will offer a bottle of water accompanied by a bunch or two of grapes, red or white, and a pound of olives for oil. The latter will need to be accompanied by something what can exert 20 tons of pressure, but no doubt we will find a solution to this sticky problem.
So can you, the reader contribute ideas, for deconstructed food? The possibilities are endless. Think about deconstructed pasta dishes, Chinese food should lend itself nicely to deconstruction. We await your ideas.