All those food writers and editors who’ve been espousing a ‘no more foam’ movement will be happy to know that foam is out and espuma is in. It’s been spotted on menus and intoned by waiters delivering plates at restaurant all around town. A trend indeed.
How long will it take for people to figure out that espuma is Spanish for foam? To be sure I haven’t oversimplified the definition or missed some details of Spain’s culinary canon, I spoke with Gotham’s resident Spanish expert, chef Alex Ureña (Ureña 37 East 28th Street, NYC 212.213.2328). His verdict? “It’s the same thing.”
And in the face of foam, the foam-weary writers inevitably cry, “No more Ferran imitators!” So let’s pause for a moment and take stock.
Espuma has been around for quite sometime – long before Adrià took up residence on the Costa Brava. In fact, the N2O canister for whipping cream was invented in London around the 1930’s. Egg whites and gelatins have been giving frothy body to foods for much longer than that. When was the egg invented?
For many a foodie, foam seems to be a culinary evil, though I’m not quite sure why. “It’s a good thing,” said Ureña, who has worked at El Bulli and is not an imitator, but a student of the master. “Its light, has texture and flavor.” What’s bad about that?
It’s not surprising to see espuma on Ureña’s menu, or at other modern fine dining spots around town. It’s an eye opener to see it at Morimoto. As revealed in the relentless coverage of six meals at the omakase bar (and note it’s only been open for 15 days) on the blog Augieland, we see dashi foam and mirin espuma on the menu. In the plate-by-plate photo coverage, we see chef Morimoto flash-freezing yuzu ice cream and chocolate anglaise in liquid nitrogen – a technique that likely incites my less-enlightened writing brethren to cry, ‘Ferran foul!” Would anyone dare say that about the Iron Chef? I hope not.
It’s a bit ridiculous at this point for food ‘experts’ (pros and amateurs alike) to insist that only one chef can use all the technology and techniques of the modern kitchen, and that the rest are imposters. It’s time to let it all flow into the pantry of collective knowledge and utensils. It’s actually all been in there for quite some time now…you just haven’t taken the time to notice.