Do you enjoy "deconstructed dishes"?
And if you do, what's the appeal?
I recently had a deconstructed mole dish. The mole sauce was deconstructed, supposedly, into its component parts -- little pools of red, green, yellow and black puddles -- that are meant to be mixed together.
Now, the dish made for interesting visual appeal, but I was sort of ambivalent about the actual taste appeal of the dish -- or even the idea behind it.
What is it about deconstructing the dish and then asking the diner to, for lack of a better word, reconstruct it that makes a particular dish better or more appealing than just serving the dish without first deconstructing it?
Deconstructed food is superb -- surprising and visually exciting -- if it's done right. There's something very cool about gathering up bits from a perfectly-composed plate with one's fork, and discovering an overwhelming, perfectly coordinated taste that's familiar and usually comforting.
Now, tell that to all of the mediocre chefs who're trying to "deconstruct" everything from mole to deviled eggs.
Perhaps if I dined out more often I'd be amused by the novelty of re-assembling a constructed dish. Right now, however, I'd rather take my meal without "assembly instructions."
Deconstruction is best left to a handful of stellar chefs whose executions are definitive of the term.
I dont think most chefs would consider this deconstructed mole. Deconstruction seems to be a bad term for what the practioneers of this really mean.It is not simply separating all the elements of a dish and presenting it. It is identifying the elements and combining them in a new way.with possible new textures , form ,presentation etc. I think this thread offers a good idea of what El Bulli and the Fat Duck are doing and what is called food deconstruction.
The chicken wing on Top Chef the other night was an attempt I think at deconstructing buffalo wings. The problem is , as above mole, to many chefs think all you do is pull the elements apart on a plate , present and call it Deconstructed X. Deconstruct seems to be a poor use of the word in terms of what the original inventor meant.
"But what about Keller's "Oysters and Pearls"? This is a dish that seems to be as much about linguistic play as it is about being food, and that seems characteristic of Keller's dishes. Keller claims, famously, that he's never tasted it. The idea came from the linguistic coincidence that tapioca comes in pearls and pearls come from oysters. It's not such an arbitrary coincidence, since tapioca pearls are called that because they resemble the pearls that come from oysters, but of course they are completely different things, and it doesn't hurt that caviar is also pearl-like both in its appearance and its price. In The French Laundry Cookbook Keller says he tries to reinterpret traditional flavor combinations in ways that are surprising. If they reveal something unexpected about what is otherwise traditional and inspire further creativity, I would call that "deconstructive." "
This quote from your egullet link was the best example of actual food deconstruction amongst all the posts there.
After reading the link, I now have a clearer idea of the concept, in as much as it relates to analyzing the dish in it's known form and reconstructing it to resemble something familiar but new. I did understand that deconstruction, as it applies to art, is to examine the argument, analyze and re-invent. I don't think that it's much of a stretch to apply the argument to what's on the plate and how it can be reconstructed.
I can imagine that there are many chefs out there that aren't familiar with Derrida and will continue to "pull the elements apart on a plate" rather than reuniting them in new and meaningful ways. Moreover, I'm not even sure if you need to read Derrida to get to an understanding of deconstruction, anyway. I also feel the use of the term deconstruction might be misleading. Remains to be seen how far and to where this philosophy and it's application, in a culinary sense, will take us.
Here is a great example of a misunderstanding of the concept
go to 10.....wont allow me to link directly
I think Goldstein was being sarcastic and objecting to all to many chefs just pulling the elements apart and dumping them on the plate and saying "deconstructed chefs specialty ." There is no attempt to put back together in a flavorable new dish.
Sadly, it appears to be what's happening. I look at that plate (at the link) and can't come to any understanding of what it means, culinarily speaking. It's just a jumble of unrelated food products and tells me nothing of it's origin or it's future (it's future is not on my plate.)
Goldstein's telling statement was, "I want a chef to show me how it is brought together." I think that's the crux of it, exam, analyze, undermine and reunit.
On another note, I think the foam thing is waaaay past due for an elimination round.
Good question; maybe to show the diner know exactly what the dish is composed of?? To taste all the various components separately and try to reconstruct them, as a whole, in your mouth-that's gotta be somewhat difficult to do. I don't personally "get" deconstruction, aside from the possible visual appeal, although I understand that where there's construction, there's going to be deconstruction. I'm an old-skool chef who prefers constructed dishes, and my feeling is that deconstructed dishes imitate deconstructed art, that the "sum" of all parts are more thought-provoking than the whole.
I don't think it's a better experience, just a different one.