Yesterday morning, at I had the pleasure of meeting Spain’s most celebrated chef, Ferran Adrià. Since I’ll probably never get the chance to eat at El Bulli—his widely adored Catalunya restaurant-turned-culinary-institute, (which now no longer accepts reservations, though they were near impossible to get even when it did)—I consider it an accomplishment just to shake the man’s hand. Though, alas, I suspect that his was not the hand that prepared the cookies and Starbuck’s coffee on offer during the break...
Adrià, along with a slew of excellent speakers brought in by Harvard University and Turespaña (including another Spanish super-chef, José Andrés), spoke on the intersection of tourism and cuisine—positing, specifically, that a country’s gastronomy should be used a marketing tool to attract visitors. Case in point: the thousands of epicures who flock to Spain each year to savor El Bulli’s 35-course feast.
“It’s very difficult for cuisine to travel,” said Adria, who joined Harvard’s faculty this semester after rocking the food world when he announced in January that El Bulli would close in 2014. “You wouldn’t invite a doctor to perform surgery in your house—so why would we expect that a country’s gastronomy can come to us? No, people must travel for it. The press must travel.”
Ferran, querido, I couldn’t agree more. I’m totally down. You just let me know when my table is ready.
Catesby Holmes is a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure.