One of the things that friends (and even strangers) often ask me and my wife S about is if we get jaded or bored when dining out. I guess the assumption here is that since we’ve eaten so widely and so well, there has to be some point at which we would become disenchanted with food and cooking. And some times, we do. Especially when we go to a dozen restaurants over the course of the month or two and see the same 3 or 4 items on every single menu. It’s even worse when one of those items is a molten chocolate cake and the others all have some element of espuma in them.
But the truth is, because we’re able to travel, and because we make a point to save up for gourmet-centric holidays, we’re able to continuously re-awaken our love for great food, be it simple or spectacular. Trips to places like Japan or France can easily cancel out any sense of culinary ennui. Simply said, eating abroad is the best possible way to press “reset”.
What is especially wonderful is visiting a place that has fantastic extremes of cooking. This recent visit to Catalonia, for example, has really renewed our love for and outlook on food. It’s been really quite amazing to experience the extremes that make Spain one of the world’s top culinary destinations. What we loved most about this trip (which I will cover in-depth in a couple of up-coming posts) was witnessing the respect and appreciation for traditional classic cuisine (and tasting these dishes of course) contrasted with the extraordinary innovations in cooking that are pushing the boundaries of gastronomy.
(Of course, many of you who follow the food world know about the storm now brewing between Santi Santamaria and Ferran Adria. But I think these two different — I hate to use the term “opposing” — perspectives on food are what make Spain, for an outsider like me, particularly exciting.)
Eating here the past week has been amazing. Tasting freshly grilled, sweet, succulent prawns in Costa Brava; slurping down a hot plate of fried eggs topped with baby squid in La Boqueria in Barcelona; tucking into an addictively delicious (and my first ever) fideua negro; tasting a truly artistic dessert inspired by a perfume at El Celler de Can Roca; and the entire meal at El Bulli were all things that I won’t forget anytime soon. All were experiences I wouldn’t want to give up and wouldn’t have missed for the world. Individually, they were all superb. Together, they have helped renew my love for food and have, perhaps more importantly, also opened my eyes to new ways to look at this thing I love so much.