Modernist Cuisine is part of the attack on many fronts on the values of simple family cooking that better than other kind deserves to be called cooking.
In case you missed the intent of the Marcus Aurelius quote, it was a barb that was lofted from France in my direction. But, pace, I have grown old, but not color blind. El Bulli and Modernist Cuisine may be examples of ingenuity and engineering but they are not different colors of cooking because they are only about recreational eating, they are not about Cooking. Cooking is the institution that fosters the development and endurance of familial bonds in many of our worlds. In my world, the Mediterranean, it is based on simple meals freshly cooked with fresh ingredients, it is based on the sincerity of the home cook who through custom and experience is intuitively in tune with her craft. Why does Cooking needto be defended? Isn’t it only about food? It isn’t only about food the way love isn’t only about sex.
It is about the societal bonds that made us human. And it needs to be defended because the home cook’s grasp of her craft has been loosened and corrupted by the culture of celebrity chefs, by the homage paid to the technical exploits of such as Ferran and Myhrvold, and because for those that Frank Bruni, the Times critic, has recently described as “the growing ranks of the restaurant-obsessed” home is not the place where you prefer to eat.
Most of the meals Americans are now having, whether they come in the form of deli or Chinese take-out, or tacos and burgers, or packaged supermarket meals, or what the most recently canonized chef is serving at his restaurant, are no longer prepared fresh at home by a member of the family. It is probably too late for any kind of defense. The only thing we can do about it is talk. Futility.