I’ve watched Weird Science one and a half times this week, inserted two packets of Mentos into Diet Coke bottles and pondered the brilliance of my Year Two volcano project for at least 8 seconds.
I feel nothing.
I’ve changed my alarm theme to Catalan Morning Shine, alphabetised my recipe collection by method and slept in my chef whites every night.
Did air transport enthusiasts feel this way disembarking the final Concorde flight? Probably not, they were wearing travel luxe complementary flight jumpsuits. They would have felt embarrassment. That’s something.
So this is what it feels like to experience El Bulli. Huh…
|Such a food tourist!|
I entered every ballot, each competition, crossed every limb hoping for a reservation at the greatest restaurant of our time. I spent much of my late teens and early twenties fearing that my number would come up before I ever had the capacity to pay for the journey from Australia (bakery bunnies in the 90’s didn’t earn the glamour money they do today). Unfortunately, my number never came up and bankruptcy from such an insignificant financial vantage point remained irrelevant. To be honest, it kind of still does.
Twice before I came close, missed out and wept in the way only those who have seen The Notebook understand. Actually, also those who have also seen Blue Valentine and the crushing evidence of Ryan Gosling’s demise into 30-something follicle recession.
El Bulli closes, for good, at the end of July. That’s 6 weeks away. I had nearly given up. Nearly…
I received an email last week from one director of my company announcing a countdown to his own El Bulli moment. I swiftly responded with a plethora of bold italic exclamation marks representing my enthusiasm for his luck, and then qualified my email with an acknowledgement that a small part of my soul was now slaughtered by jealousy’s spear.
He must have assumed me odd and grammatically incorrect. But I didn’t weep.
Instead I felt a light zephyr, an air of hope if you will.
Not long after I received a visitor at my desk. My exclamation key was happy for the reprieve. It was my director. Not The Countdown Director. The Direct Director. The director who, I was informed, would be unable to take his place at the table of culinary history in front of Ferran’s kitchen and dine at El Bulli. And so it was, because of him, my time had come.
|Moving indoors, flowers paper, adult fairy floss dotted with flavoured flowers. We cannot confirm or deny but our taste buds did pass out for a while at this point.|
At this point I did weep. It was actually a little less meek than weep. I think a dance, jump, squeal, sob in the fairground vein of Wilbur the Pig is more correct.
It’s funny and revealing to me that even as an adult a physical reaction is sometimes so unbridled. I was shaking a little, bright red and my brain was utterly incapable of forming a coherent thought which did not involve spherification or freeze drying (pronounced with a Catalan thah). I took a moment in the staff car park to gather myself, although the resident carton of smokers quickly drove me inside after a failed and jarring heel click. Damn you Grandpa Jo, you make it look so easy.
|Carbonara tagliatelle with a consomme noodle. How?|
Last Thursday when I met Ferran in his kitchen at El Bulli I was as red and as shaken. Right now, remembering it, I am the same…although I have resigned my brain to accept a home spherification is impractical and I will never be able to speak Spanish.
|I have to be honest, not my favourite course, but seriously sexy plating...and it did turn me onto caviar.|
El Bulli was 49 courses to which I have no comparison. Ferran and his team are artists and inventors, creators of culinary mythology, presenting dishes of humour and wit whilst encouraging contemplation and rediscovery of flavour and taste. I will happily slide down every vortex of cliché ever written or expressed about El Bulli but I have tried to avoid use of the word genius. Shift F7 suggests Wizz Kid. I don’t think this quite works.
I will never eat, feel or see anything like El Bulli again. Although my family home in Melbourne does challenge El Bulli on a units of bull dog design items per square metre basis. Our 3-year-old French bulldog, Montesquieu, may just tip the scales in our favour.
|Not to be confused with my family home, El Bulli's dining room.|
I’m convinced the only thing stopping us from physical and cerebral combustion was the juxtaposition of our Dr Who menu and the aged wood, velvet and personality rich dining room. Feeling like we were eating in a friend’s home placated any urge to panic from fear of course 42 arriving. Wine lulled our surprise discovery of a mimetic almond shattering under bite.
|I'm never washing this page again!|
A week on, I still have my signed A Day at El Bulli open on my coffee table. I recall bites, flickers and waves. I’m trying to reassimilate. I’m annoyed easyjet don’t issue travel jumpsuits. I cannot believe I made it to El Bulli!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!