JANUARY 21, 2020

CHEW Cookbook Review: Hungry – Part 3

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it all with the Greatest Chef in the World

by Jeff Gordinier, Tim Duggan Books, 2019. Part 3 of 4.

“What if we were to see this land with new eyes? What if we were to revise it, reconsider it? What if the framework wasn’t the Protestant civilization that’d been laid down like a frigid veneer but the indigenous riches that had existed before that – and that still existed all over the place, if anyone took the time to notice them?” – Rene Redzepi, from Hungry chapter “Macedonia”

Gordinier and Redzepi via www.robbreport.com

If zealously seeking the cross cultural roots of mole’ in the back jungles of Mexican Oaxaca was the essence of Rene Redzepi’s first stage of his road-tripping quest for culinary reinvention, then the next few chapters Gordinier dedicates to answering the question ‘how will the Noma chef apply this newfound insight to his own restaurant in his own hometown of Copenhagen Denmark?’

Redzepi had previously found himself in a bit of a tenuous culinary position – he had been deemed the creator and arbiter of what had come to be called the ‘New Nordic Movement,’ which might naturally produce images for many diners of a food of purely Scandinavian origin, but in truth “the menu at Noma represented an attempt to refashion the very concept of Scandinavian cuisine and what that meant had as much (if not more) to do with Macedonian than with the realm of smorrebrod and flodeboller.”

Noma in Copenhagen via www.cntraveller.com

The world-famous Noma had been serving one menu program but all the while Redzepi had his eye on someday serving something far more subtle like the perfect pot of Macedonian beans, a dish that his own father had eaten nearly every day in his childhood, and one that reminded Redzepi of “childhood idylls that he and his brother had spent in Macedonia, holidays that had embedded in him the same things he would later seek out and bring to the table in Japan and Mexico and Australia: wild nature and sunshine.”

Wild nature and sunshine would serve as appropriate regenerative metaphors as Redzepi and Gordinier arrived five months later at the sight of the new Noma to come, “Christiania, the lawless, carless precinct of Copenhagen…a social experiment wedged in the middle of the city.”  As the two stood looking out over these rough edges of the city Redzepi explained “What you have to imagine is that this will be a farm in the city…What you’re standing in, right here, will be the future greenhouse. There will be a raft and we’ll put a huge field on the raft.” Gordinier paused a few moments in disbelief and then reconsidered. “Maybe they’ll have livestock. Maybe there will be chickens nibbling and clucking around the property. I see a befouled parking lot next to the sort of swamp you see in along the New Jersey turnpike. Redzepi sees a farm.”