Reading This Book 'Is Like Being Waterboarded with Truffle Oil'

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New York Times book reviewer Dwight Garner does not care for "Ferran," a new biography of Spanish chef Ferran Adrià by Colman Andrews, at all. Adrià, the owner of such internationally heralded restaurants as El Bulli, is considered a pioneer of molecular gastronomy, a popular and innovative cooking style made famous in the U.S. by, among others, Chicago chef and contributor Grant Achatz. Garner gives Andrews' biography of Adrià an intensely negative--if uproariously entertaining--review. Here are the highlights:

  • WHAT IT'S LIKE TO READ: "He's written hagiography, not biography. Reading 'Ferran' is like being waterboarded with truffle oil."
  • ON LENGTH: "Good luck, too, wading through more than 50 pages of 'Ferran.' Mr. Andrews’s awestruck observations are an appetite suppressant."
  • A DAMNING EXAMPLE: "Mr. Andrews taps on his wineglass, stands and makes this inscrutable toast:  'It is a tribute to Ferran that even a novelist capable of fabricating the most improbable plots and completely unfettered by practical concerns can’t be as imaginative in the kitchen as Ferran can.' The image I conjure here is of Gary Shteyngart and his laptop, both splattered with peppermint borscht."
  • THERE'S MORE:  "Ferran’s friends and colleagues think the world of him" is a typical utterance. As is: "He captivates audiences, charms them, gives them their money’s worth." Or: "He can be almost electrically intense." Or: Gravity itself seems like "an annoyance to him." Or: "He is an icon, an idol. He is, as he says, a myth."
  • DUBIOUS SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION: "How did he become the most talked-about chef on the planet? One of Mr. Adrià’s friends supplies this nugget: 'His tongue is bigger than ours. He literally has a larger tongue than normal, with more papillae.'"
  • WHAT'S MISSING: "Mr. Andrews did not get especially close to Mr. Adrià. 'He never once invited me home,' the author writes. We learn almost nothing about Mr. Adrià’s wife, Isabel Pérez Barceló, whom he married in 2002."
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