Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine – René Redzepi
Quality of actual book
Reader Rating2 Votes
In 2003, a naive but optimistic 25 year old decided he would start a fantastic new chapter in his life. He had worked at a few very successful restuarants before (The French Laundry in California, and at El Bulli in Spain), and he felt there was an idea forming behind his eyes, that he needed to realize. It was time to take a journey. So René, and two friends went to explore the North Atlantic in an epic 17 day adventure.
He usually took notes of everything, but seeing as he was starting fresh, he would forego the quick scribbling of events, and take in every moment as much as he could to remember it later. He “lived in the moment” so much that he’s since forgotten 3 of the of days, but the days he can remember, are filled with eating live langoustines, sailing into sea caves, meeting the former President of Iceland, and “good hot and tasty vodka!”.
He’s somehow living a Pixar story line: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
It’s incredibly hard not to get drawn up in this book and it’s made so much better when you realize that René Redzepi’s writing reads like he speaks, so you really do feel as if he’s taking you with on his adventure as well.
This is just the build-up before you even get to the recipes.
The photos of the food are all together without any writing, so most of the time I end up staring at images with no idea of what I’m looking. It’s food porn, at a different level. It’s like listening to a beautiful language that’s so foreign you’re not sure you could reproduce the sounds, and usually end up butchering them when you try, or at least that’s my experience at language acquisition. All you have to go by on each of these masterfully photographed pages is a feint reference page number next to the actual page number, at the bottom.
The recipes are in the 2nd part of the book, and printed on (what looks like) acid free recycled paper. The pages have a slight coarse texture, and with it, the corresponding answer to the riddle of what pretty picture you were gawking at moments earlier. This is where that beautiful language you heard is translated, and although it’s seldom what you thought it would be, it’s often much much better.
The problem hits home quite quickly, when you realize that unless you live in Scandinavia, you probably won’t be able to forage many of those pretty ingredients at home, potentially ruining these recipes.
Then you think about it for a moment longer, and it hits you, that chances are, there are many delicious things to forage around where you live. You just have to go and find them.
In a weird way, life is probably like that – something inspires you to do what you saw that inspired you (duh), and then you realize that you probably can’t reproduce it because they had specific circumstances that you don’t. So either, you give up (and keep looking at the food porn in this book), or you go outside and figure out what specific circumstances you have at your disposal.
I love this book. To me it’s pure inspiration, and it’s a reminder of what could happen if look around you long enough.