Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Philosophy Part II - It's gotta taste like dirt
Yes, this is an interesting title and no I don't literally mean that everything you cook needs to taste like a big ol' handful of dirt. This is my way of expressing what the French call 'terroir'. It is a phrase most commonly associated with wine making, but one that I started using with foods not long after my first tastings of Trent Hendricks' cheeses. The concept behind the philosophy is that each product you are cooking with has a soul, a sense of place if you will. This is where it came from, what it is most closely associated with and keeping the flavor as close to the original as possible. It is a concept that I think about every time I introduce a new dish to the menu. Here's the one bizillion dollar question: If someone came into the restaurant and had no idea where the restaurant was located or what time of year it was would they be able to figure it out by reading the menu? The answer is that if they could, then the menu is well rooted in our larger sense of place and this only works out if, on a micro level, each dish 'makes sense'. It really ties into the idea of Philo. I where you need to go to the source and learn it from the bottom up. Each ingredient has an identity, find that identity, make it 'taste like dirt' and match that with other 'friends'.