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Book review: Food for Thought

Book review: Food for Thought
Food For Thought/Thought For Food
edited by Vincente Todoli & Richard Hamilton
Actar publishing
RRP £29.95

Food For Thought is a real 'concept' book- ideal for people a little jaded with the recent raft of somewhat vacuous food- and cook-books, writes Zoe Perrett.
First off, let's make one thing clear- this book's a real stunner. Pop it straight on the coffee table to earn some serious kudos from dinner party guests, but do tuck in yourself- it's a scrumptious journey.

Even those with the most fleeting interest in progressive cooking will know Ferran Adria's name. His Spanish restaurant, elBulli, has become nothing less than legendary- for many, a pilgrimage to dine there is truly the foodie Holy Grail.

This book is an exploration of links between elBulli's food and avant-garde art- indeed, who could argue Adria's food is anything but? The restaurant's recent 'Documenta12' forum between 12 industry experts project threw up a wealth of debate, creative processes and theory, all of which are compiled here for the reader's delectation.

If you're a menu voyeur, you'll love the decade of elBulli dishes, meticulously documented and illustrated. There's enough here - behind-the-scenes info, calendars, 'top 12' dishes, philosophy and evolutionary maps- to make you a true egghead on the topic of the iconic venue, plus a century's-worth of culinary timeline to brush up your food history.
The photography is quite simply beautiful. Extreme close-up images challenge and skew our perceptions of things as commonplace as a water droplet, enhanced by fabulous lighting and vibrant use of colour. One could happily while away an afternoon just perusing the images- but there's far more to be taken from the tome.

Especially fascinating is one couple's own journey through 100 days of dining at elBulli- an intimate portrait of their experience, taking in letters, photographs and personal reflections. Contributions from luminaries like Heston Blumenthal, Bill Buford and Adrian Searle are thought-provoking and enlightening.

'Food For Thought/Thought For Food' is a real 'concept' book- ideal for people a little tired and disillusioned with the recent raft of somewhat vacuous food- and cook-books. Dipping in feels like a real treat- one of those little indulgences that has something new and exciting to reveal every time the cover's opened.
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7 September 2009
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