For an average Foodie, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress is a bit of an effort. It dives straight in and doesn't really set things in context. It is a documentary done in a 'fly on the wall' manner. It follows Ferran Adrià and his team of chefs as they experiment and prepare for the next restaurant season (the famed restaurant is open six months of the year and closed for the other six during which Adrià and his team concoct all kinds of gastronomical wizardy in their food lab in Barcelona).
Don't get me wrong; it was fascinating to see these masters at work pondering and deliberating whether to vacuumize or deep fry sweet potato water or making a cocktail out of hazelnut oil, salt and water. I just wished restaurant critics, other notable chefs, restaurant goers (and even critics of molecular gastronomy) had the chance to add their voice to this documentary.
Fascination is a term I have used a few times now and it is fascinating just to witness the oddities and innovations that are served at El Bulli. I honestly question if I would enjoy a meal there. Maybe 'enjoy' is the wrong word, perhaps 'experience' is a better way to describe eating at El Bulli. But shouldn't eating be a enjoyable experience?
What seemed to be missing was any element of fun or enjoyment. It was all very serious and intense. Watching chefs like Bourdain or Blumenthal or Ramsey go about their craft one gets the sense of boyhood adventure and excitement - not so with El Bulli - instead you get the sense of obsessive perfection and an academic approach to food.
I kept hoping for the documentary to really grab me and it never really did and it felt more an effort to watch rather than the joy I wished it could have been.