You will never cook out of Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking, the lush and deeply inspiring brain-whack of a book by Andoni Luis Aduriz, the superstar chef at Mugaritz, the destination resto in San Sebastian, Spain. The recipe for Fresh Walnuts and Crab in a Clear Citrus-scented Stock, for instance, calls for 300 millilitres of almond-shell distillate and 8 grams of methylcellulose. Similarly, you'll have to lay in fumed silica, hypromellose and 16 leaves of anise hyssop to replicate Evoking a Spring Morning: Latxa Ewe's Milk Ice Cream, Sun-ripened Red Fruits, Mild Textured Anise Herb Buds. Aduriz went so far as to consult a team of pathology researchers to learn to cook foie gras perfectly. The restaurant keeps two full-time scientists on staff.
As ludicrous as this may sound, though, there's a current of extreme simplicity beneath the food. The science isn't the main event here; the ingredients – roasted woodcock, baby leeks, a slow-cooked egg – are. Aduriz's signature move, as the introduction puts it, is "to cook something that first makes you wonder what the hell it is; then makes you think, it seems like x, and yet it can't be x; and then makes you realize that not only is this x, it is the most intense, most x-like version of x you've ever eaten."
Mugaritz is a cookbook (for some, at least), a coffee-table book and an incantation on the driving creative philosophy behind one of the world's greatest restaurants. But more important, it's a window on what might well be fine gastronomy's future, complete with totally lickable life-sized photographs.
Aduriz will be at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Friday, May 11 for the screening of a new documentary film that pairs the ideas behind Mugaritz's food to original music by composer Felipe Ugarte.
Tickets are available through The Cookbook Store (416-920-2665).