Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit
During the first day of this year's MAD symposium in Copenhagen -- a kind of meeting of the minds of the best chefs in the world, organized by Rene Redzepi of Noma -- I saw famed Italian butcher Dario Cecchini gut a pig on stage, heard Mexican cookbook author Diana Kennedy rail against the sous-vide cooking technique (the bags are environmentally irresponsible), and watched a semi-pornographic video by Los Angeles-based artist David Choe. Not surprisingly, "Guts" is the theme of this year's event. Later today, lucky attendees will hear talks from a stunning roster of food types, including chefs Alain Ducasse, Roy Choi, Barbara Lynch, Margot Henderson, Alex Atala, and Christina Puglisi, and writer Jonathan Gold.
Now, if you're a MAD conference attendee, several things will happen when you visit Copenhagen.
- You will eat a hot dog topped with fried shallots from a kiosk -- even though you've just finished a 15-course meal.
- You'll ride a bicycle with one hand on the handle bars while the the other grips an iPhone loaded with Google Maps. Don't worry: it's still safer than biking in NYC.
- You'll meet several tall, very Nordic gentleman who own restaurants throughout Scandinavia that, if you were good at your job, you should already know lots about.
- But most important, you will eat dishes and taste ingredients that you probably have never eaten or tasted. But you will. Soon. Because what excites chefs in Copenhagen right now will excite chefs elsewhere later. Last year, I had live ants for the first time. This time around, they were served not alive but made into a sauce and a paste. Are Americans finely ready for the picnic insects? I'm guessing it's going to take a few more years.
So what will American diners be eating next? In the slideshow below, I'm offering a sneak peak -- and givings odds on which ingredients will succeed.
Almonds (lots of almonds), hazelnuts, and walnuts in dishes at Noma (pictured here), Relae and Geist. They bring crunch and snow-white color to the plate. (Credit: Matt Duckor)
What’s the next ugly kid of the vegetable world to get some love? Kohlrabi—thinly sliced and draped over cod or cut thin like a steak—made appearances at Relæ (pictured here). In fact, kohlrabi is already taking root in the States—it's in dishes at Estela and Roberta’s, both in New York. (Credit: Matt Duckor)
These powerful smokers aren’t just the envy of every backyard griller. Noma (pictured here) has several in its backyard, as do Relæ and Amass. (Credit: Matt Duckor)
Yes, you’ve probably had these low-sulfite, often oxidized wines in the States before, but here menu after menu is paired with funky, high-acid thirst quenchers. My meal at Relæ (pictured here) included what was probably the most inspired wine pairings I’ve ever had—and of course they were all natural. (Credit: Matt Duckor)
Ice cream flavors back home are becoming more complex and oddball, but over here desserts are going the savory route with simple bases (milk, buttermilk) that can support bigger, bolder flavors, like a drizzle of brown butter caramel. Spotted at Amass (pictured here) and Relae. (Credit: Matt Duckor)
The last time I saw this acidic succulent plant, it was in power-bar form in the health food section of a Whole Foods. But in Copenhangen, I’ve spotted it at Amass (pictured here) and Noma (with roasted turbot) and stuffed with fava beans and crème fraîche. (Credit: Matt Duckor)
A coastal plant with lots of acidity and cred among the foraging types. It’s crunchy and tastes slightly grassy—probably why it’s sometimes called sea asparagus. Seen at Geist and Amass. (Credit: Flickr user aidanbrooks)
They might very well taste like lemongrass, but an ant-studded ice cream cone is unlikely any time soon on this side of the Atlantic. Pictured here: Noma's blueberries and ants. (Credit: Flickr user Robnunn)
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