La rivoluzione spagnola? Snacks

In Milan, a documentary showing how Iberian chefs changed cuisine

18-04-2016

Last Monday at Mudec in Milan, at 6,30 pm, docufilm Snacks, bocados de una revolución was shown, explaining how the Iberian chefs have changed the world’s cuisine. The event is part of a rich programme created on the occasion of the exhibition dedicated to Mirò

«We didn’t dream of arriving where we arrived», says Ferran Adrià, to whom Joan Roca ideally replies: «As chefs, we thought of changing the world and we did so». This is a sort of long distance dialogue on which Snacks, bocados de una revolución is based. It’s a documentary created by food reporter Cristina Jolonch with the creator of the Film & Cook festival Verónica Escuer. It was presented on Monday at 6,30 pm, at Mudec in Milan, within the “Il Mudec incontra la Spagna” programme which the Spanish Tourism Organisation created on the occasion of the Joan Mirò exhibition, in collaboration with Istituto Cervantes and the museum, which includes a rich programme of activities aimed at promoting the peculiarities of Iberian culture through the works of one of the artists who were best capable of interpreting its spirit.

Snacks basically tells about what could look like a happy coincidence: some great figures in the same field find themselves in the same place and time and instead of opposing each other they work together, with thrilling results. It’s what happened in Spain in the last thirty years, and happened in the kitchen, causing an unprecedented change, first of all a cultural and mental one, and then technical too. This is what happened: a group of Iberian chefs managed to convey their passion for creative freedom to the world («Indifference is the worst thing. Mistakes would be better», masterfully sums up Andoni Luis Aduriz).

Some of the chefs appearing in Snacks, taken from the documentary’s poster

Some of the chefs appearing in Snacks, taken from the documentary’s poster

For sure, the role of El Bulli was essential («There’s no important restaurant that doesn’t use its techniques», Paco Pérez stresses something evident), yet in the end Adrià is born in a context that had already seen the New Basque Cuisine active and which now affects the entire country, not just its east. Ángel León is near Cadiz, in Andalusia, Dani García is in Marbella; there’s Quique Dacosta near Valencia – just to name a few of the people who are both narrators and narrated by Snacks. Yet we could go further: Ricard Camarena also works in Valencia, David Muñoz is from Madrid, and they are the main standard bearers of the post-avantgarde, the new conceptual categorization in which Catalan Quico Sosa, one of the greatest culinary thinkers in the past twenty years, inserts (see our article) the present and the near future of Spanish cuisine – which is no longer only Spanish, as it has a stable capacity of influencing the others.

Joan Roca and Andoni Aduriz at the presentation of Snacks

Joan Roca and Andoni Aduriz at the presentation of Snacks

Influencing, no longer revolutionising: because Ferran Adrià no longer cooks, maybe. Some speak of reflux and tiredness: if it’s true, one must also admit that you can’t find someone like Adrià even elsewhere in the world. The strength of Spain today relies on three elements. First, having transformed fine dining into a national element of identity, not enclosed in the Basque and Catalan communities. It’s no chance that the youngest generation of cocineros is scattered a bit everywhere, think about some of the most talented guests in the two latest editions of Identità Milano, Sergio Bastard from Santander, Cantabria (we wrote about him here), and Miguel de la Cruz from Matapozuelos, a small village near Valladolid (we wrote about him here). The wave from the East has reached the West, just think of Asturian Marcos Morán or Javier Olleros, in the far west of the Galician coast (see here).

Massimo Bottura, who (also) trained at El Bulli, is one of the international chefs speaking in Snacks

Massimo Bottura, who (also) trained at El Bulli, is one of the international chefs speaking in Snacks

Second strong point: the country has managed to innervate this excellence into its economy, crowds of gourmands have long been arriving now from all around the world, feeding the flourishing culinary tourism. Third, they were intelligent enough to define a series of institutes capable of making this leadership stable, continuing it at least at high level, from the Basque Culinary Center (read a recent interview here) to the El Bulli Foundation, up to some of the most interesting congresses in the world: Gastronomika, Madrid Fusión, Fòrum Gastronòmic… All this while for six times in the last eleven years an Iberian restaurant has been at the top of the world’s 50 Best list, first El Bulli and then, today too, El Celler de Can Roca.

And Joan Roca speaks in Snacks. With him the already mentioned Adrià, Aduriz, Pérez, Dacosta, León. And then Josean Alija, Juan Mari Arzak, Albert Adrià, Eneko Atxa, Martín Berasategui, Fermí Puig, Carme Ruscalleda, Pedro Subijana: there are at least three generations, confirming that this is no flash in the pan (will we be able to say the same about the New Nordic Cuisine?). Next to those with the Spanish giants, there are also interviews with some of their most important colleagues across the world: Grant Achatz, Gastón Acurio, Alex Atala, Daniel Humm. And Massimo Bottura, who thus explains today’s fine dining in the documentary: «Conveying emotions with a crust of Parmigiano, with a tiny sardine. That is to say “heroic” working class food». This is possibly the new frontier. Spain is already there. Luckily, this time, it seems is there Italy too.