The books are essentially a history of the cuisine of Ferran Adria at elBulli. Which one book to choose would depend upon which era you are most interested in emulating. The most recent is the best for explaining his most recent techniques. It also incorporates the most recent publishing technology. If I had to choose one it would be the 2003-2004.
If I understand correctly, the books all come with a cd-rom which includes the recipes. I don't know how detailed the instructions are for completing the recipes as I've seen the books, but mostly just stare at the photos.
The books are cookbooks, but not in a traditional sense. I think (and anyone can correct me if I'm wrong) that they are more about the theory behind how Ferran Adria and his team came up with the ideas and how they worked them out. Sort of an evolutionary history of the restaurant and the concepts.
Because they have great design, thery also have all the new spherification techniques, and a lot of their recipes have step by step color pictures which explain things very well. The 98-02 lacks the picture explanations and only has the recipes on the cd. And the 2005 they started putting in small videos to explain the techniques, but I find it better to have pictures to folllow in a book rather than have to go to your computer and put in the cd and play the videos and still they are not as clear.
The 2005 book cd comes with mini videos but they are just little explanations for recipes. Like 1 minute videos just showing a certain important step in a recipe with no audio. So it;'s just one of the cooks in front of the camera demonstrating.
I only have the English books - the books pictures are food porn but some interesting text, the recipes are on the CD's these I find difficult to navigate esp the earlier editions but the books and CDs get better in the later years.
My wife ordered the 98-02 book for me for Christmas and after waiting over a month, it finally arrived last week - damaged and in Spanish. Needless to say, she was not happy (me either for that matter), and after several emails and a phone call, the book seller is going to refund our money and they do not want the damaged book back. They were not able to send a replacement in a timely fashion and again would not guarantee the English version that was originally ordered. I would rather not say who the bookseller is, because I am sure this is not the norm and at least they were relatively quick to offer the refund.
So here is the deal, the book is damaged, but not unusable. The binding is torn, corners are dented, and there are nicks in the cover. If I had got this as a used book, it would have been fine, but certainly not for a new book, and especially one with the price tag that El Bulli carries. There is, however, still the problem of it being in Spanish.
My question is should I buy the replacement book in English, or should I get the 03-04 in English and deal with the Spanish version of 98-02. Bear in mind I can't really read Spanish though I took it in school, I may be able to make do.
What struck me was how much more complex the \"main courses\" are compared to the 2002-2004 cookbook. Some of them are incredibly complex, featuring ten or more separate components, each component requiring extensive preparations.
Patrick Cohendet is a Professor in the Department of International Business at the HEC Montréal business school in Montreal, Canada, where he is also the Co-Director of Mosaic, the Creativity & Innovation Hub. His research interests include the economics of innovation, knowledge management, and the economics of knowledge and creativity. He is the author of numerous articles and books including La Gestion des connaissances: firmes et communautés de savoir (2006) and The Architectures of Knowledge: Firms, Capabilities and Communities (2004). He was principal investigator of numerous research projects at BETA, a research lab at the University of Strasbourg, France, studying the economic and social impact of new technologies. He has conducted a series of economic studies on innovation for different firms and organizations, notably for the European Commission, the OECD, the Council of Europe, and the European Space Agency.
Colman Andrews is an award-winning food writer, restaurant reviewer and gastronomic commentator based in the USA. His previous books include Catalan Cuisine and Flavours of the Riviera. He co-founded Saveur magazine and acted as editor-in-chief for four years, and went on to be a contributing editor for Gourmet magazine. He has known Ferran Adrià for many years.
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