Ferran For The Home: A Book Review

If you’ve ever wanted to know what the world’s best chef eats for dinner, this is it.

The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià is touted as the “…first book of home-cooking recipes” by the celebrated chef. It centers on 31 three-course meals eaten as family meals by the 75 members of the kitchen staff at elBulli. The family meal is of course the staff meal eaten together before service begins. The book is a compilation of menus created by Eugeni de Diego, one of the head chefs, and Ferran.

The introduction states: “Domestic cooks can learn many tips from how things are organized in a professional kitchen, and The Family Meal aims to show people how easy it can be to cook in an organized way, by adapting our recipes for home cooks.” The principle is that good eating comes about by planning and cooking reasonably priced meals with locally available ingredients.

In typical fastidious Ferran fashion, the book opens with recommendations for Cooking At Home (plan your meals and buy the fresh ingredients on the day itself); tips on cooking Meat, Side Dishes, Chips (fries), and Eggs; a colored guide to the different types of fish used in the book; an illustrated catalog of the kitchen equipment used; and a complete list of the Essential Pantry. The behind-the-scenes photos of the family meal is a fascinating look before we get to the crux of the book.

photo from www.tomatom.com

It begins with the Basic Recipes, sauces and stocks, and all in full color which is what this book is all about. Each recipe has a full-colored photo of the ingredients needed and a fully illustrated step-by-step guide. Each tri-course meal of the 31 meals given consists of a starter, a main, and a dessert with recipes yielding 2, 6, 20, and 75. It’s unclear why these particular yields were chosen, perhaps the result of the scaling down of master recipes. The numerous suggestions given for mixing and matching menus is very helpful as is the timeline for divvying up tasks down to the last half hour. Punctilious, yes it is.

Far from the gadgets and gizmos that populate the kitchen of elBulli, there are none here and no fancy plating either. It’s mentioned in the book that “The food we like to eat at elBulli is the same as what most people like to eat,” and how. The diverse nationalities of the kitchen staff dictate an international mix of dishes hailing from Spain, Mexico, France, and Japan among others. Thus, Mexican-style slow cooked pork, Thai beef curry, noodles with shiitake and ginger, and duck with chimichurri sauce.

The photos are sufficient and encouraging, making the recipes seem very doable indeed. Some are as simple as spaghetti Bolognese, hamburger or tagliatelle carbonara (both are staff favorites), chocolate cookies, and even an omelet made with potato chips (yes, really).

So, even though you never got to eat at elBulli (it closed this past July) and are intimidated by Ferran’s other cooking volumes, try this one. It’ll get you as close to eating what this iconic chef himself enjoys.

My rating: /5

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The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià by Ferran Adrià
Hardcover, 384 pages ; Phaidon Press
P1,796 at all Fully Booked Stores .

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