The scam of haute cuisine

March 4, 2011

I took a cooking class last night at Sur la Table. We prepared a menu of simple, but delicious, foods using interesting ingredients.

We made a flatbread with goat cheese, thyme, orange zest and two kinds of olives. Spectacular, from the dough to the topping. Our roasted beet, goat cheese and hazelnut spinach salad was–mwah! (kissing fingers). I don’t even like spinach salad, but I dug the one we made. Tasty. We made beef tenderloin medallions with a merlot caramelized shallot sauce. And poached pears with a caramel creme anglaise.

Delectable. Scrumptious. Plain food, interestingly prepared, normal portions.

I have eaten haute cuisine at many fine restaurants around the world and a number of them right here in California. And here’s what I want to know:

  • Who decided that a tiny piece of pork attached to a hunk of fat is “high-end cuisine?”
  • And who decided that a delicious dish results from a Frenchman force-feeding a goose until its liver explodes, then killing the goose (a mercy, I’m certain) and serving that fatty liver on a plate. {Oh, and prettily naming the cruel force-feeding “gavage.” }
  • Oh, and then those famous fungi: truffles. Who decided that the haute of haute cuisine is any dish that tastes like dirt?
  • Or that ice cream, “churned” tableside with liquid nitrogen and tasting like a giant pat of thick, sweetened butter, was anything but dining theatre and a disgusting heart attack in a bowl?

Maybe I just don’t have an “informed palate.”

Or, just maybe, my palate is a little too well-informed:

Pork belly.
Truffles.
Liquid nitrogen and ice cream fixins
Torturing a goose so diners can have foie gras

One comment on “The scam of haute cuisine
  1. Anton Gully says:

    I’m going to argue with you on the pork belly. That is NICE.

    Food that involves torturing animals, like veal or foie gras, I have no interest in.

    Never tried a truffle, not even a truffle oil. Kinda wanna do that sometime. Hoping I hate it, cos it don’t seem like a cheap habit to acquire.

    I somewhat retired almost a year ago and I believe I’m going to learn to cook more than what I can next year.I can handle a knife and make most sauces, but a lot of the cuisine escapes me. Never was a science guy. What I do to meat is a crime.

    Nice blog you have. I was searching for cooking lessons, and pinballing myself about classic French and Asian Fusion, which seem to be the popular things. The “haute cuisine” post caught my attention, due to me hating the phrase and wanting to find some push back on it. I know that’s pretty negative, but it was a sore spot at the time.

    I will examine your site. I believe it’s going to provide a good deal more instruction than most of what I’ve had this past while, and in a more relateable manner.

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