Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sound effects

Every Friday, I look forward to picking up from the subbing pool the food stories for the weekend edition. Especially today, after last night's killer nine-pager on the Budget following Parliament.

Only today, someone else got the choice food story first. But she was so taken in by what she was subbing, she messaged excerpts as she went along. Heston Blumenthal has a new take on fine dining. And it comes with iPods. The idea is to have a sound accompaniment to what you're eating.

His new menu features seafood -- shellfish served on a bed of edible sand, which is Japanese breadcrumbs fried with something I now forget. It is to be washed down by "sea water" in a martini glass, which is some seaweed infusion. And all this time, you're plugged into an iPod, listening to the sound of the sea.

He wanted to explore the sense of sound together with the sense of taste. It's not illogical, I suppose. It's like beautifully presented Japanese meals which cater to the the sense of sight along with taste.

Only I don't think Bray is by the sea and I sure hope his inspiration isn't the British seaside because I can tell you that my experience of Blackpool Tower, Brighton Promenade and Dover didn't inspire me to want to drink the sea water. Or maybe I had been to the wrong places. I had an involuntary tasting of the sea at Lyme Regis, it sprayed me in the face along that wall structure when I was pretending to be The French Lieutenant's Woman.

And when you reach dessert and opt for Blumenthal's famed bacon and eggs foam, the iPod plays you the sound of sizzling bacon.

The bit that the sub incredulously copied and sent: when you're eating chicken, you get to hear the clucking barnyard sounds.

That's where it started to go horribly wrong for me. When I'm eating chicken, I do not want to think that it was once alive and had a mother. So I don't really want to hear its voice when I'm eating it. As it is, I only eat meat that comes in fillets. I can't eat wings or thighs or bits that are recognisably limbs or part of an animal. I would like to not think that my dinner was once a sentient animal, I prefer to have an ostrich mentality and think that it comes on a styrofoam tray and think no further back. Or I would have a problem eating at all.

It's like that bit in Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe where the talking cow points to his various bits and recommends Arthur Dent the choicest cuts before trotting off to the kitchen to become dinner.

At least Adams was being sarky. Blumenthal wasn't.

I suppose it's a good thing Blumenthal hasn't explored the sense of smell. Imagine, barnyard smells with your chicken chop.

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