Behind any published piece of writing are many pages (and in my case many many pages) that were written but never meant to be read. These excess words are like the camphor tree that’s planted alongside a tea tree, by the time the tea leaves have been picked and processed there’s no thought of whose roots were co-mingled with what, but the slight cooling sensation on your tongue is both reminder and remainder.
Many thanks to Black Balloon Publishing for publishing my profile on Koh Kikuchi (Chef Otto) this week. While editing the piece I went back to my notes and found a few lines comparing Koh’s cooking to Morton Feldman’s piano music. Needless to say such abstract nonsense didn’t even make it into the first draft but I can post it here for the minimally inclined.
A Morton Feldman piano piece:
– sometimes the audible has already been played
– sounds become inaudible before their notation ends
– notes that fade away by themselves without the pianist’s influence
– not everything in the score is audibly recognized
– takes into account what you may have already eaten, or may still be lingering in your palate.
– dictates textures and flavors in a sequence, within a time frame lasting between two bites to a five-course meal
– flavors that emerge without Koh’s influence (he likes to say “I did nothing to this piece of meat!”)
– not everything he does to the food is intended to be tasted
One has to read what the dish is trying to do. Like minimalism piano music, there are tones and rhythms, but the music has a purpose. It’s going somewhere, though some notes fail where others succeed. One has to study the dish, how it relates to what was served before, or what is coming.
The seared tip of a triangle of whitefish, the slimy spiral of seaweed in a clear consommé, the dull grayish blob of leeks that were cooked in soy sauce and wine and pork ribs for 8 hours. All of these are notes/textures in his little compositions.
A few lingering online reviews of Koh’s cooking: