Food is full of trends. Everything these days can be considered “hot” — from the restaurants, to the chefs, to the food blogs and the plating, right? Yet while it’s easy to get lost in the hoopla of something new and exciting, I feel it’s time to pay homage to the latest and greatest in food. A technique that also happens to be one of the most basic and classic ones in food.
Naturalism. What exactly is naturalism? It’s the idea that food gets onto the plate without looking processed at all. And in a world that’s full of crackers shaped like fish and cheese that comes out of a pouch to put on your pasta, it’s nice to see naturalism taking a satiating stand on more and more plates across the world.
And no, this is just not a trend for hippie moms and their Whole Foods shopping companions. It’s for anyone and everyone who is tired of seeing hyper-manipulation everywhere they go. To put it in perspective, if one said: “scientific, modernist cuisine is prevelent in some of the worlds top restaurants,” that would surely be the understatement of the year.
Places such as El Bulli, Alinea, Mugaritz, etc. do modern and they do it well. I tip my hat to the geniuses behind food like this, as it helped shape the chef I’ve become. But when plates get dropped at places like this, diners ooh, ahh, and eat – most of the time not even knowing what exactly they are putting in their mouths or the correct way to ingest it.
Forgive me for sounding old school, but I think people want to feel comfortable – now more than ever. They miss picking up something identifiable and feeling good about eating it. I may be going off on a limb here, but I hypothesize that nostalgia will become the next new mindfuck in food.
For a sample of someone doing it right, see Chef Magnus Nilsson of Fäviken Magasinet (Fäviken, Sweden). Fäviken’s rule is that the restaurant buys nothing (other than salt, sugar, vinegar and cooking oil) that doesn’t grow in the immediate area. How about that?
“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” -C.S. Lewis