Since making the puree of Clementines on Saturday, I have been dropping other citrus fruits into the pressure cooker. Meyer lemons were a great success, producing a velvety puree which can be enriched with a touch of butter for a beurre blanc sauce, in reverse proportions, or used for a decadent egg-less mayonnaise or as a sheet to drape over lobster. We also put some dried Goji berries in the pressure cooker for just five minutes. The result was a melting and tender product which we made into a puree to serve with scallops right now. When summer comes about will probably use as part of a tomato salad.
On Sunday, we served this dish. The focus is fillets of flounder "glued" together with transglutaminase, wrapped in prosciutto which had been aged for 18 months. We seared it lightly in a pan and finished the fish in the oven. It was served on a bed of melted leeks which were cooked gently with salt, water and olive oil for two hours and surrounded with a meyer lemon sauce, which was slightly thickened with .23% xanthan gum and seasoned with fresh jalapeno. Wow!!!
Now look at the dish and imagine eating it. Does it matter to a consumer that we glued the flounder together with a natural enzyme? Not at all, it is simply a useful technique for us so we can have a uniform shape, thicker than traditional flounder fillets to wrap and roast. Does it matter to the diner that we made a meyer lemon puree rather than a traditional beurre blanc or lemony hollandaise? No, not really as long as it tastes good. And the leeks, they are tender and full of flavor. So who cares how long I cooked them and how? Examining the prosciutto begs the question does age matter? It does, because the flavor of the pork evolved over time. Like a fine wine, great hams require a bit of maturity to smooth out the edges and bring all of the elements together. And in the end, as consumers we are concerned with the taste.
As chefs we wonder about ingredients and techniques no mater what or where we are eating. We don't expect that philosophy to extend to everyone we meet. The majority of people who come to eat our food simply want a good meal. They want an experience that makes them feel luxurious and pampered and yes, they want to eat well. We provide all of the technical information for whoever wants it. It is easy to forget that the loudest segment of the population is not always the majority. It is easy to forget that restaurants are not really theaters. Chefs do not own the stage. We share the focus with our guests and their guests and all of the reasons they visit us besides the food. That's a good thing.
We ask ourselves what is possible in the kitchen every day. We don't always ask ourselves who cares. We trust that those who want to know how and why we created it will ask. We hope everyone else will enjoy the the food as part of their experience, whether it is the main focus or not.