Sunday, November 13, 2011

new nordic inspiration

"we do not stop the world when we eat, we go into it a little more deeply." - olafur eliasson

dandelion, nasturtium, seakale fruit and yellow beetroots
noma is the world's top restaurant. i've been reading their beautiful cookbook published by phaidon - NOMA: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi. (it's so wonderful that i actually had to use capital letters.) :-) i'm not sure i'll actually try make any of the beautifully photographed recipes, as they are very advanced and some require special equipment (liquid nitrogen, smokers), but i will be using some of the raw ingredients they use. and i simply i can't remember the last time i got so much pleasure and inspiration from a cookbook. it's completely sumptuous and very thought-provoking.

truffle dessert
noma is a combination of two danish words "nordisk" and "mad" - nordic food. they use only fresh, seasonal ingredients from scandinavia and the book explores the early days of the thinking behind the restaurant. rené and claus meyer (another purveyor of new nordic cuisine) went on a voyage of discovery around scandinavia - from the farøe islands to iceland to greenland to norway, sweden and back to denmark - to put together the thinking and the menu. the cookbook includes excerpts from rené's diaries of the trip and is an inspiration.

radishes in a pot

the notion that our diet should be composed of things that are available and seasonal in our surroundings is at once both retro and revolutionary. our ancestors surely ate like that, but we've become accustomed to the availability of tomatoes and strawberries year-round. we can have what we like, whenever we like, because it's there on our grocery store shelves. but what if we returned to seasonal eating? what we ate more root vegetables and cabbage in the winter and only ate tomatoes in the summer? what if we used wild plants from our forests and ditches? what if we ate more game? more fish? what if we were more closely bound to our surroundings in our diet?

pork neck, bulrushes, violets and malt
i heard on the radio that there's a study going on that's focused on new nordic cuisine and tho' they aren't finished yet, one early result has been that those participating have lost 3-6 kilos, which wasn't one of the goals - but more wild, lean meat like venison and more vegetables from the area instead of pasta and rice have had an effect.

dessert of flowers
it might initially seem that to use only seasonal, local ingredients is limiting, but once you start looking around, there is a bounty all around us. and we are left feeling more connected the world that we inhabit. as olafur elliason says in his introduction to the book, "Whether we like it or not, what we eat affects how the world looks. And that affects the way we understand it. When we look at a  plate of food, we should see the greater ecosystem too. If we find out where the food comes from and where it goes to, maybe this knowledge can be made into a different kind of flavor-enhancer. ... Food can be political. Food can be about responsibility, sustainability, geography and culture."

if you get the chance, at least borrow this book from your local library.


Elizabeth said...

This book was on my lap for several weeks. It now returned to its home, the libary.
The whole outlook on food is different and one (I) found out there is so much learn about what is eatable and what isn't.
Wish there was a place/book/whatever to get started with this learningprocess.

Anyway, I totally agree, give yourself the chance to read this book, it is marvellous inspirational.

snippa said...

Interesting stuff. Also demonstrates that "the first taste is with the eyes".

Lucy said...

This was my Christmas present, and I'm completely in thrall to it, it's by far the most beautiful book I can remember holding. I have some mixed feelings about it, that there are inconsistencies, a kind of irony and disingenuousness about it. Yet it really is having an extraordinary effect on how I'm seeing not only food but everything somehow. It's not inspiring in the sense of making you want to try out the recipes, but at a much deeper level, somehow. And it certainly makes me want to visit Denmark and Scandinavia in general even more.


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