漫走.森林裡的餐會-費飲食實驗室Feuille-European Restaurant
 
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漫走.森林裡的餐會

Decoding Feuille Food Lab’s Cooking Philosophy

Feuille 的料理哲學

對我來說,「飲食」不單單只是為了填飽肚子和得到飽足感而已。
飲食的過程可以是享受的,有趣的,在舌尖上香檳的氣泡感,留在味蕾上久久不散,像是看場電影,或提升到像去欣賞一場得獎的歌劇。但是準備一頓好餐點是需要很多努力的,卓越特殊的一餐,需要的不僅僅是計畫、購、執行而已,在這個名廚充斥的世代,他們能在餐飲界成名,不僅把菜做得好而已,名廚們需要帶有一些非凡、獨特的秘密和技巧,才能讓他們與眾不同。

我相信他們在講述他們的故事時,無論是個人的旅程,或是成長蛻變的過程,就像是藝術家展現作品一樣,往往在感官直接的感受下有著更深層的意義。對於用心來飲食的人們來說,他們可以有更深層的感受,不僅是和食物,更是和他們自己心靈上的溝通。

對於我而言,飲食就如同娛樂,我無時無刻都在想,在飲食上是否可以有更多的感受。
可惜的是大多數人們在對待自己重視或熟悉的事物時,有不同標準。舉個例來說:電影相對於飲食,人們會期待電影要有精彩的劇情,演員傳神的表演,以及科幻片裡最需要出色的電腦特效與配樂,但對飲食的需求,往往只著墨於味道好及生理的飽足感,相較於其他生活領域,我們對飲食關注的比較和需求實在是太過於狹隘。

如何讓食物的美味、飲食的娛樂性兼容並蓄,令人難忘?何不給他們一個故事?但我該怎麼去編織這段故事呢?無疑的,我需要指引、提示及一些關鍵的想法,來導引我不至於迷失在這無止境的飲食迷宮裡。

當我陷入困惑時,我常會去爬山涉水,沿途景觀的變化萬千,田地裡種植著各式各樣的農產品,而在陽光有限的森林裡,是一個完全不同的世界,要在這找到合適的食材,往往要花些時間和精力,而且數量都不多,不像那些可以培育、經常使用的食材一般隨手可得。
瞬間!"稀有" 和 "平凡" 浮現在我腦海中。

在烹飪的世界裡,處理食材的過程中,常會存在這樣的討論,是要用最簡單的調理方式,嚐其單純的風味,還是運用各式的烹調手法,使其符合特定的味道。重要的一點是得充分了解食材的本身,決定最合宜的處理方式,看是要呈現其原始天生的滋味,不做額外調味;或是對食材提高我所需要的,去除我不需要的部分。對於原貌、與原味兩個元素不同派別的討論,我會調皮的扭曲它們的定義,透過"模仿"B食材的面貌,來介紹A食材的原始風味。

身臨其境徒步於森林中,在兩旁的小路生長著高大的樹林,陽光以不同角度透過樹葉間的隙縫映照出來,在森林的地面上投射出不同的氛圍,動植物依其生理上的差異,選擇了最能夠滿足其需求的"棲息地"。例如:一種獨特的蝸牛品種,需要滋養蝸牛生長的蘑菇,而能促進蘑菇繁衍蓬勃的是蘑菇依賴的苔癬。各個棲息地的動植物息息相關,小心翼翼的維持著平衡。如果您退一步,停下來,靜止感受那畫面:不同質感組成的土壤,雨後小道上的泥濘,蕨類為主的植被,點綴在灌木叢上的花卉,傾倒的高大樹幹,於是您擁有了專屬的森林"場景",場景是可以有相當多變化的,在較高的平原,您擁有了高山或雪景,沿著小溪來到了大陸邊緣進入潮間帶,您得到了海灘的景象。

當您採集和組合食材時,會感覺到每種質感明顯的不同,軟的、硬的、糊狀的、脆、多汁的,我們對質感特別有感覺,似乎是因為我們喜歡有口感的食物。我們品嘗東西的好或壞時,口感是相當重要的評判依據。
例如:簡單的經典凱薩沙拉,食材的組合看似單純,實際上是相當複雜的,生菜必須盡可能的潔淨和硬挺,以保有爽脆乾淨的口感,麵包丁一定不能陳舊,每一面、每一粒麵粉分子都要達到適當的烘烤,才能成就乾、鬆、碎裂的嚼感,這些培根與略帶黏性的軟質乳酪並駕齊驅,同樣是除去水分的蛋白質纖維,卻在硬度上形成對比,一份沙拉涵蓋了質感上的寬度與廣度。想像一下您現在正享用著這精心準備的沙拉,這肯定會讓我臉上露出一抹微笑。我認同這裡面的風味概況,根據我的經驗,這確確實實的是一道標準的沙拉。但如何才能夠更進一步強化吃沙拉的體驗呢?試著將餐桌移到長滿了生菜的田野間,播放著咬斷生菜的"嘎吱"聲,並讓火坑上蘋果木燻烤培根滿溢的香氣,飄向餐桌上。

這將是一段不可能在短時間內被取代的感官的體驗。

一方面是因為您從來沒有經歷過這樣的情境,此外您的其他感官嗅覺、視覺、聽覺都參與並協助捕捉到這些記憶。
由此可見,感官的刺激,絕對是餐點設計上強而有力的關鍵因素。享受美食真的要用餐具嗎?在森林裡野餐,採集最好的蘑菇,尋覓可以加到您的沙拉與三明治內最新鮮的花卉和可食用的綠色蔬菜。
對自己餐點的期待,參與製作自己的餐點的過程是好玩的,是一種成就。讓用餐的人能夠參與和完成他們自己將要吃到的餐點,有助於深一層次的歸屬感和連結。

〝深入大自然,你將對一切有更好的理解。〞愛因斯坦為所有探索大自然的人們留下了線索;雖然我們的對大自然的理解會有所不同,他卻發現那是自我成長,理解萬物最好的管道。
能夠在森林裡健行是有幫助的,僅僅徒步幾個小時,我已感到平靜,解放了靈魂並精神奕奕起來,旅途中學習到和觀察到的,讓我的廚房完成了〝原始、模仿、稀有、平凡、棲息地、場景、質感、感官、玩耍〞等元素,為我的烹飪哲學制定了方向,讓我內心所想得以發揮,在這個繁忙且充斥複雜關係的都會生活裡,我們的時間不斷的被壓縮,來森林裡散步幾乎是不可能,所以我想著,如果人們無法前往森林,我就以謙虛的心把森林帶往餐桌上,讓人們在整日忙碌後,坐下來享用並得到放鬆,隨之而誕生的菜單,至少在這一季裡,將是個森林的旅程,想像處在森林的邊緣,也許是在法南的普羅旺斯有間木屋,在夏末秋初的時節裡,木屋讓人懷想舊往,回想起早期生活,人們從最基本開始,飼養家畜,到處尋覓、採集任何可用來補充每日所需營養的食物,利用醃製來保存這些食物,使它們得以存放的更久,來渡過那冬天物資的缺乏。


Decoding Feuille Food Lab’s Cooking Philosophy

To me, eating has always been more than just filling up our stomach and subduing our growling hunger. It can be as enjoyable and entertaining like watching a good movie or elevated to attending an award-winning opera with the tingling effervescent taste of champagne lingering on one’s palate. But a good meal takes effort, and an exceptional one requires even much more than just planning, sourcing, and executing. Today there are no shortages of celebrity chefs out there. For them to become established figures in the industry each one of them must do more than just to make food taste good—they must have something up their sleeves that are unique which set them apart from others. I believe they are telling their stories, whether they be personal journeys or the processes of their metamorphosis. Like artists showcasing their work in the exhibitions, there exists a deeper meaning than what the eyes first perceive. And for those who are seeing with their mind and soul, they can have a deeper sense of connection with not just the food but with themselves as well.

For me, I have mentioned that food is entertainment and I often wondered if it can be much more. Unfortunately, people do not have equal standards when it comes to the things they value or are familiar with. For example, between food and movies, you would expect good acting, a good plot, and excellent CGI animations for a sci-fi movie in order to be rated enjoyable, but for food, perhaps it only has to taste delicious and fulfilling. Our needs in this area seem small and minute compared to others. At one point, just to make the food taste delicious becomes quite limiting and compartmentalized in the general sense of being fun, interesting, and memorable. Why not give it a story in the way of how I choose to tell it? I decided that I needed pointers, guidelines, or philosophies that would help guide me to touch on the essentials in this culinary labyrinth of possibilities. When I get stuck, I trek, often from the cities to the woods. And with it, the changing of landscapes is quite noticeable, too. Commonly, a variety of produce is grown in the fields, yet, inside the forest with limited sunlight, it’s a different whole world altogether. Immediately, the “rare” and the “common” come to mind. Inside the forest, it takes effort and time to locate the desirable ingredients and they never are in big quantities as opposed to the cultivated ones which are often quite accessible. In the culinary world, there is often the debate between treating the ingredients minimally to taste their pure flavors and manipulating them in complicated ways to conform to a particular taste profile. Recognizing this, it’s important to understand the ingredients well to make sound judgements as whether to present their “crude” taste, preferably best without any additional seasoning, or carry out preparations to remove the unwanted and enhance the desired. As a playful twist on both positions, I would present in addition the crude flavors and also carry out all the manipulations necessary to “imitate” the ingredients in their original forms.

Trekking in the woods is an immersive experience. You have the tall trees of various classifications lining both borders of the trail. The angle of the sun, and the light rays filtered through by the green foliage cast different ambiances on the forest floor. Responding to the physical differences of each niche, flora and fauna choose the “habitats” best suited to their needs. Each habitat is gingerly balanced and the flora and fauna support each other. Here you would find ingredients not available elsewhere; for example, a particular forest snail, and the mushrooms they feed on and the wet moss that helps flourish the mushrooms. If you step back and pause to take a still frame: the different textured soils, the muddy puddles in the trail after the rain, the fern based vegetation, the patches of bush flowers, and the tall fibrous fallen wooden trunks, you then have a particular forest “scene.” The scenes can be quite variegated, high on the plains where the temperature is low, and you have an alpine or snowy scene. Follow the creek to the edge of the landmass into the intertidal zone, you have the beach scene.

When you have the ingredients gathered and assembled, each “texture” is apparently different from the soft to starchy to fibrous to crunchy to succulent. The texture is of particular interest because we seem to love the textural feel on the palate. And texture gives weighted credential as to something tastes good or not. For example, as simple as the classic Caesar salad seems, it employs seemingly innocent ingredient combinations that are in fact quite complex. The romaine lettuce has to be as clean and plumb as possible to impart that crisp and clean mouth feel. The croutons must not be stale, but attain a proper toasted surface of each flour granule from the inside out to achieve that right dry exploded crunch. The bacons go head to head with the slightly stringy yet soft cheese, contrasting against the hardness of its moisture removed protein fibers. One salad, but deep in numerous degrees and extent of textures all packed into one. Now imagine you are eating this masterfully prepared salad. It certainly would have brought a smile to my face. Some part of me must have agreed to this flavor profile, which must have resonated my approval based on my experience of criteria on how this salad should be. My sense of taste is undoubtedly engaged. But what would further accentuate the experience of eating this salad? Move the dinner table to the field where the lettuces are grown, play the sound effect of “crunch” of biting into this salad, and drift the aroma of bacon being grilled on an open apple wood fire pit over to the dinner table. It will be a sensual experience not likely to be matched anytime soon.

Partly because you have not experienced it before and the fact that your other sensory organs of smell, sight, and hearing all participated and helped to capture that memory. As shown, the sense organs are powerful motivators that must be engaged and taken into consideration when designing a dish. Are forks and spoons really needed to enjoy a good meal? Have a picnic in the woods, pick the finest mushrooms, forage the freshest flowers and edible greens possible to add to your salads and sandwiches. The expectation of it, of being able to partake in the process of making your own meals can be a playful and triumphant one. Engaging diner interaction to the completion of their meals promotes a sense of deeper connection, belonging and appreciation for something they are about to consume.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein has left clues for all those who seek them; our interpretations may be different, but nevertheless it is a quest of self-discovery and to understand things better. And it is indeed rewarding to be able to trek in the woods. Just a few hours into the hike, I already feel calm and my spirit is usually lifted and invigorated. Taking what I have learned and observed in this journey, my pantry is then complete with these elements of “crude, imitated, rare, common, habitat, scene, texture, sense, and playfulness” to formulate the approach or philosophy to my cooking and to play to my heart’s content. In this era of busy metropolitan life where there is much at stake, our time for ourselves is incessantly compressed and truncated. To take a time out in the woods seems virtually impossible. So I thought if people cannot go to the woods, I shall humbly bring the woods to them, to their dinner table, to their very last meal of a busy day to relax them. The menu that follows then, at least for this season, is a journey through the woods. Picture a wooden cabin set at the edge of the forest, perhaps in the southern Provence region of France in a late summer and pre-autumn setting.The wooden cabin is easily nostalgic because it is reminiscent of the past life where people had to work for their meals from scratch, by raising the livestock and foraging whatever is available to supplement their daily diet and preserving their vegetables by pickling when the time comes.

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