A few days ago, I was invited to the Google London HQ to sample some dishes from Ferran Adria’s new cookbook, The Family Meal. For a foodie is also a bit of a geek, this was heaven. Lunch was really chaotic as we were in one of their many staff canteens and had to join the massive queue for food. The Google Canteen was a really apt place for the lunch since the new cook book is derived from recipes from the El Bulli staff canteen.
A nice bonus after lunch, Niamh from @EatLikeAGirl and I had an exclusive interview with Ferran via his interpreter. He had been doing back to back talks and interviews for 15 hours a day for a few days and he was still very happy to chat to us about his book, why he wrote it, the future and what plans he had next. You can watch the interview below. (There is another version of this video with a different view on Niamh’s blog)
Google holds talks at their offices as part of their “Author At ” series and on this occassion they invited the esteemed chef to be their guest. The talk was open to Google employees and some invited guests and was held in yet another Google Canteen in another building.
Having Ferran speak at Google was a stroke of genius as the man is not only a very talented chef but he is a creative genius who has embraced technology and wants to explore ways to use technology to further experiment and push the boundaries with food.
There are several (quite shaky) videos of his talk and the first one is here:
In Part 2 of the videos, Ferran talks about the evolution of culinary creativity and how El Bulli encourages this and is responsible for up to 80% of creativity in the last year.
Book Review of The Family Meal by Ferran Adria
Firstly, this massive cookbook is not about molecular gastronomy and more about simple home cooking. Ferran despairs that even though there are more food programmes and food blogs now, there aren’t more people are not cooking at home. He wants to simplify cooking and to encourage more people to cook, so this book wil be a good guide to beginner cooks and advanced cooks will learn a few new tricks and recipes too.
The recipes in the book are the recipes that have been created and thoroughly tested in the El Bulli Kitchens for the daily staff meals for the 75 staff who worked there. The whole El Bulli team used to sit down for a family meal at 6pm every day and they spent as much time and effort in preparing this meal.
The team had produced detailed production sheets for each of the meals with a list of proven procedures that ensure that each meal is cooked in exactly the same way.
Included in The Family Meal cook book are a list of basic kitchen equipment you will need to a list of the basic ingredients that you should keep in your kitchen. Sections of the book cover “How to cook meat” to “How to cook eggs”. The rest if the book is organised into 31 three course menus with dishes that show culinary inspiration from not just Spanish but Italian, Japanese and other cuisines too.
All the recipes are aimed at the average person who make less than €1,500 a month. The claims are that each meal can be made in 45 minutes for less than €3 per head. I really like the fact that there are step by step pictures to accompany each recipe.
An average 3 course men look like this:
- Chickpeas with spinach and eggs
- Glazed teriyaki pork belly
- Sweet potato with honey and cream
When we spoke to Ferran, he said that the recipes in this book has been written for 2 people up to 75 people as he wanted this to be easy for the people who will tend to buy a takeaway instead of cooking. He said that most cookbooks write recipes for 4 people but most average households have 2 people.
The book has step by step recipes on making simple sauces like tomato sauce, barbecue sauce to romesco sauce. It also has a very handy section on making stock, nice to see it including all the basics which are assumed knowledge in other cook books.
You might need a little bit of cooking experience for some of the recipes but most of them are quite easy to do without too many cheffy touches, no tricky molecular gastronomy cooking techniques required.
This book would be a great addition to anyone who likes to cook as a reference for making basic sauces to cooking the more adventurous recipes like the Watermolon with menthol sweets.
You can buy The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria on Amazon.