Eat Like You’re at the World’s Best Restaurant
Make everything as simple as possible. But not simpler.”
Einstein’s famous words have inspired countless researchers. Taking away — subtracting — what is superfluous until only the essentials are left is an important principle in research. Elegance is in simplicity.
Research and cooking actually have many points in common. Experimentation. Creativity. And not least, the fact that simplicity often produces the best results.
Can Einstein’s striving for simplicity help you acquire better, healthier eating habits?
Many cooks try to gild the food by adding a lot of unnecessary things. This applies both in our own kitchens and at restaurants. Let’s see if we can be inspired by how Noma, the restaurant in Copenhagen named one of the world’s best for several years, turned the concept upside down.
Noma’s chef René Redzepi has described how when Noma first opened he tried to copy French and Spanish high-end restaurants. But it didn’t take off. Dejected, he travelled to Iceland and Greenland to find new inspiration. The trip was complicated, however, by a severe snowstorm.
In a remote village, while snowed in, he realized that he was making food too complicated. He outlined a new concept based on subtraction — scaling away rather than adding to. Since then Noma has striven for a food experience based on simplicity and purity.1
It’s about letting the fish come forth rather than drowning it in sauce. Letting the berry’s natural flavor emerge without bathing it in sugar. Letting vegetables taste like vegetables.
At Noma there are no white tablecloths. No candelabras. Rough wooden tables. Food is central.
Subtraction Is the Basis for Good, Nutritious Recipes
Redzepi thinks that when we try to make food “finer” by adding extra fat, sugar, salt and various condiments, we smother the raw ingredients. Everything tastes similar. The taste experience becomes poorer, and the food less nutritious.
For that reason, the next time you’re cooking, ask yourself: What can I take away? And when you make the same dish next time, try taking away something else. And then another thing.
Perhaps in the end it may lead you to have real Noma-type food on the kitchen table at home. Greatness is often in what is simple, exactly as Einstein realized.
How can you make your food simpler and healthier?
1. Noma - Time and place in Nordic cuisine. An insight into the food philosophy and creativity of Noma.