Faviken (Anglais) Relié – 25 octobre 2012
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Petit bémol, les photo du livre sont extra mais le design culinaire parfois l'emporte sur l'idée du plat (seulement sur la photo; les recettes elles sont bien complètes).
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As a cookbook however that Americans might want to cook from, even professionally trained chefs will have a problem with it. Not because the ingredients that do have units are given in metric (80g dry-aged blade of beef, cut into a loin), but because the ingredients themselves would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most cooks to track down.
Here are some recipes from the book:
'A tiny slice of top blade from a retired dairy cow, dry aged for nine months, crispy reindeer lichen, fermented green gooseberries, fennel salt'
'Thrush with drying mushrooms, fresh cucumber, fermented fennel and cottage cheese'
Hazelhen, fresh lingonberries, which calls for '3 perfectly shot and matured hazelhens, taken out of the fridge plenty of time in advance, hearts and livers reserved' as well as '6 handfuls very fresh lingonberries, attached with some of the tiny leaves (not the big woody ones).
I started to rather desperately turn to the root vegetables section for something I could cook, and found general methods of preserving them, and the same for vegetables. Recipes in the vegetable section include 'Fermented juice of mushrooms and oats' and 'Vegetables cooked with autumn leaves', both leaves from this year and last year.
So while it is a beautiful book to read and look at, and I am sure dining at the restaurant would be amazing, I doubt that I will ever cook from it. I don't think there is a single recipe I want to jump in the kitchen and make. I would have to do too many substitutions. Still, it is going to be a good historical book documenting very local foraging and game that will no doubt inspire others.
There are things in this book I could never conceive of. There is a recipe for a dish called Kalvdans, and the primary ingredient is a cow's colostrum. Yes...colostrum. He uses pig's blood to make little bowls and turnip leaves that "have never seen the light of day". To make the broth of autumn leaves, you've really got to think ahead...you need some leaves from the current autumn as well as some from last autumn. His ideas and recipes are astounding and beautiful.
So, this is not a cookbook to actually cook from. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't get it...just don't buy it as a cook book, buy it for the story it tells. It is a new way of thinking about food. It gives you an amazing glimpse of a completely foreign way of life and way of eating. It makes you rethink why we raise and process and then eat products the way we currently do. The author has a love and respect of where food comes from and it really gets you thinking about how things maybe should be different. There's sections on how to butcher...everything. He even teaches you how to properly peel a carrot. In short, this book is magical.
Now...where do you think I can pick up some "perfectly matured grouse, innards reserved"...
The book Fäviken, published by Phaidon has done a fantastic job recreating every aspect of the restaurant's life. In a series of introductions where the personality of Magnus Nillson is introduced as well has his own writing; some of the central themes are presented. The essay, "A Wednesday at Faviken- how the restaurant works," uses a precise but candid tone that gives you a point of view perspective on what goes into a single nights service. Sections on meat, fish, plants and dairy break down the idiosyncratic methods used at Faviken. At the end of each section are the recipes. Nilsson's recipes are constructed more as narratives than as precise instructions on how to cook each dish. As he articulates how each dish developed into its current state it becomes clear that change is never forced but a product of necessity, a dish may evolve slowly, quickly change, or stay the same over the course of a season. Nilsson's humble relationship to each ingredient also shines through. He treats every product used in the restaurant as ends unto themselves, not vehicles for the chef's artistry. A good example is his, "Scallops cooked over burning juniper branches," where nothing is used in the dish besides perfect scallops and perfect cooking, no seasoning, no sauce, only the ingredient elevated to its full potential. There is nothing extraneous in any of the dishes, no dripping of brightly colored sauces or abstract plating strategies because for Nilsson, that would only further remove the ingredients from their place in the world, just outside the doors of the restaurant.
There are many practical skills to take out of the book as well. From making lighter broths, diverse preserving techniques, even the simple realization that all ingredients cook evenly if at room temperature, to the whimsical approach of maturing vinegar in a burnt-out trunk of a spruce tree, Nilsson's imagination is irresistible. The urge to incorporate some element of the hyper-local/backyard/foraging sensibility into every thing you make will take hold. Juniper needles will end up in your mushroom sauce, you will be steeping autumn leaves in a tea pot, cooking a simple cut of meat becomes much more involved and you are constantly scanning the forest floor for treats. In the introduction Mattias Kroon writes, " For me, the greatest achievement here is the invention of a style of cooking...If Magnus can do it at Faviken then someone can reinvent cuisine on a mountain in Siberia, or in a valley in Bulgaria, or on the coastline of the Seychelles, and on top of one of the stone sculptures on the Easter Islands..." Through Faviken and Mangus Nilsson we learn that new, regional cuisine, can only achieve its full expression by looking intently within its own structures and traditions. Structures and traditions we all have, that are all around us, if we would only notice them.
I came to amazon to order it as a gift and, out of curiosity, browsed its reviews. As is no unusual occurence, I became a bit frustrated by the confusion at hand and have decided to clear some things up.
Faviken is no mere "cookbook" (does it sell itself as one?), though it does contain a large selection of recipes. This being said, it is not "unusable", as so many have claimed. I understand the general lack of imagination, motivation, discipline, and overall desire to really involve oneself in ANYTHING anyone does any more, but to criticize this work for being very involved (which it indeed is) makes little sense. Sure, it's no substitute for Rachel Ray's 30-minute-meals, but nor does it claim to be. To criticise these techniques and recipies for being difficult is like disparaging a violin builder's handbook because "it's just so gosh darn hard to build a violin, by golly!"
I also wonder how many of these reviewers have even read the book or, for those that have, how many understood it.
1) The book contains a wealth of knowledge about techniques, which ANYONE, ANYWHERE can use. The book goes into enough detail on these topics to not need supplement. One of the most valuable sections discusses an approach to cooking meat with direct, "pulsed" heat. It personally upheaved the way I cook. There is also a helpful explanation of how pan-cooking works which I know EVERYONE who is sauteeting, searing, roasting, or whatever ought to understand. That probably means you. This book is also responsible for totally changing my approach to broth-making by making them more focused and more flavorful. No need to go through the entire list, the point is that many claim "nothing in here is practical" and I wonder if they made a quick, incorrect assessment based upon the "exotic" (particular) nature of Faviken's ingredients, because the techniques on display are tranferrable to any place, and any set of ingredients. Other examples include how to make your own flavored salts (with WHATEVER flavors) and how to preserve.
2) Regarding the "exotic" fare, the other main point is that Faviken is being true to its locale and that this book is meant as inspiration for you to be true to yours. It suggests that you probably SHOULDN'T be replicating the ingredients list. You ought to learn to observe what's around you.
I understand that many are not interested in such involved approaches, but those people should look elsewhere, or simply appreciate the book for what it is: a very lovely expression of a place and a perspective.
I mean, I'm not gonna go leave a 3-star review on a baseball because "I want a football". That just doesn't make sense, does it?