Ideas are often obstacles to overcome. In cooking, if you hear of a great dish, you want to try it. If you hear of a great preparation or presentation of an ingredient, suddenly a new benchmark has presented itself.
Often times it takes the creations of others to break through the existing ceiling of what is possible, to ask both simple and complex questions and then to find the answers. After all, once you've seen someone else do something, then you know that it's actually possible to achieve the same results, although perhaps with your own interpretation or embellishments. Recently I saw pictures of Wylie's most recent breakthrough, "Knot Foie." Wylie has figured out a way to make foie gras bendable, in fact his foie is so pliable that he can tie it in a knot and still retain the texture of a foie gras terrine. That's pretty darn clever. The idea of flexibility in food, coupled with the isolation and refinement of texture, is something we are seeing more and more. Yet, it is the act of reaching for what seems impossible that is truly inspiring.
We have traveled our own paths in looking at what is possible with food. While I can say we have worked on flexible puddings and pies, the idea of a foie gras knot was something never occurred to me. And still, I think that food tied in a knot is pretty clever. And, I reiterate, it is the break-through thinking of others which often enables us to take another step.
In borrowing the idea of knotted food we went in a sweet direction. Recently I have had a key lime pie fixation and this seemed as good a time as any to put my ideas into execution. The knot itself is a derivative of key lime pie filling. The crust is finely ground graham crackers bound with butter and olive oil. The yogurt (my idea of whipped topping) is flavored with Tasmanian peppercorns. I added a sheet of lovage and some leaves of basil in lieu of the usual mint sprig. So, does it work? Yes. Have I been inspired by the work of others? Yes.
And still I have issues. The dish is a success. It's both beautiful and extremely tasty. Yet it hinges on someone else's concept of being able to tie food into a knot, a concept that I did not come up with on my own. Is that stealing an idea or being inspired by one? What do you think?