Fermenting Philip Glass: René Redzepi on Music and Cooking

René Redzepi is the chef and proprietor of the acclaimed restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. His menus are heavy on native, seasonal, foraged elements, in addition to the usage of fermentation to make issues like pine cones edible.

For a dialog with him primarily based round an alternate of items of music, I selected the “Water Cadenza” from Tan Dun’s “Water Passion” as an amuse-bouche, adopted by the primary motion of “Cantus Arcticus” by Einojuhani Rautavaara. Redzepi selected Philip Glass’s “Floe,” from “Glassworks.” Here are edited excerpts from the dialogue.

I wished to select items that talk to your sense of journey on the subject of utilizing elements that individuals haven’t thought-about edible earlier than.

There is one thing so spontaneous and easy concerning the “Water Cadenza” that I really loved. I felt it was one thing we may truly take heed to within the check kitchen. I got here to work and had it on my headphones, and it was actually upbeat — a constructive, energetic music.

What made me consider you in these sounds of water being slapped and poured and decanted can be the standard of synesthesia, of partaking a number of senses. When I ate at Noma, the primary course was a broth contained inside a pot of dwelling herbs, with a hidden straw. In order to drink it, I needed to bury my face within the dwelling plant and there was the enveloping sense of odor and the leaves tickling my face.

It’s a method of shaking folks and saying: Stop all the things else, be right here. This is the pure world proper now as we see it; please take it in. Some come right here and are already attuned to being curious. But different folks? It’s the identical with music. People eat and take heed to the identical seven or eight issues all of their lives.

The second piece I picked for you is the start of the “Cantus Arcticus” by Rautavaara, a Finnish composer who died in 2016. It consists of discipline recordings from a bathroom close to the Arctic Circle in order that the birdsong mixes with the orchestra. I believed there was an analogy to your cooking within the wild and the cultivated sounds, the foraged “found” sounds from the sector and the composed ones.

First of all, I beloved the piece. I believed it was extremely dramatic, like I used to be waking up in a jungle someplace.

Many issues that I take pleasure in in artwork and design and crafts is when these two fuse: one thing uncooked and wild with one thing ultrarefined and very polished. When these two can meet I typically suppose that’s the way forward for our society. Becoming just a little extra wild and listening just a little extra to the wilderness in order that we will be extra attuned to it.

The different factor is that it’s very native. The birdsong ties it to a selected place and a selected season. And that made me wish to ask you about seasons. Music is the artwork of change over time, and I feel you’re making an argument for returning meals to that context.

It may additionally join, as you stated, to selection. We have to be higher at utilizing it. Eating selection. Listening to selection. And not having all the things be the identical on a regular basis. It’s extremely boring and it makes us lazy folks.

My childhood was spent partly in Denmark and partly in Yugoslavia. When we determined that Denmark can be our everlasting residence, I used to be very rootless for a few years. As quickly as I entered cooking I discovered myself with one thing I beloved. I fell in love with taste instantly. But I used to be nonetheless not 100 p.c certain if I truly belonged right here. I didn’t have a way of belonging anyplace.

When Noma opened in 2003 no one foraged. I imply, that they had executed so out of desperation, however not for taste or any beautiful texture. And we discovered ourselves on the shorelines and within the forest. And that’s when I discovered my sense of belonging, with my toes in some rotten seaweed or my arms deep in a mattress of ramps. And I’d prefer to go that alongside to anybody who’s rootless: Go out and be taught the seasons. See what’s edible. See what modifications week by week. See how an ingredient isn’t that one factor you suppose it’s. It will be 5 totally different elements because it grows type just a little shoot to a berry.

I suppose one other a part of that’s fermentation, which is one other method of constructing time work on elements. It has its personal logic and span which you can’t hurry.

It’s an antidote to the world the place all the things is so quick; on-demand; lightning pace. To even have issues that you need to await and then one thing magic occurs, I like that. The happiest folks I do know are individuals are in nature on a regular basis: foragers, bakers, fermentation consultants. Sometimes I envy that focus. My job is to be on the middle of all the things that’s going on.

Speaking of a variety of issues going on, let’s discuss concerning the Philip Glass piece you picked, “Floe.”

The first time I heard it I believed perhaps it was techno, and then I believed: No, it’s one thing utterly totally different. I bought pulled into the rhythm and the way in which it simply retains constructing and constructing. A whole lot of our workers take heed to it. There’s one thing concerning the power in that beehive of sounds that resonates with us after we’re nearly to get very busy.

Listening, I used to be truly picturing a busy kitchen as properly. It’s an illustration of how a lot richness you will get out of adjusting only one variable, as a result of the harmonic development is identical over and over. So there aren’t any surprises there. But there are fixed surprises in how he modifies the feel. He performs with these easy elements, however they’re fairly bizarre put collectively: flutes, French horns, and synthesizers and saxophones. So you’ve ethereal, mellow and brash and — I don’t know what I’d name a synthesizer. Sharp?

People get targeted by listening to this music. If you play it loud sufficient, it doesn’t matter what’s going on you’ll suppose: I must focus. A whole lot of cooks have Glass on their playlist now. There’s one thing about his music that actually works within the kitchen.

It doesn’t impose a narrative on you the way in which perhaps the Rautavaara does. The Glass could be very summary. And to me, it’s fermentation: I image issues fizzing and effervescent.

Maybe we must always play it in our fermentation room. Do you already know Mort Garson’s “Plantasia”? It’s an digital album that was meant for vegetation. And we play that in our greenhouse for our vegetation. I do know there are quirky farmers who play music to their animals.

When you stated “Plantasia” I believed it could be the amplified sounds of vegetation rising. John Cage wrote a bit for amplified cactus. And you possibly can chortle or roll your eyes at that, however in the end it comes right down to the identical factor you might be doing — increasing folks’s consciousness of what’s audible and what’s edible.

I feel our senses are the most important present we have now, and we use them poorly. We don’t eat properly, we don’t hear properly, we don’t see properly. And our senses might be like ninjas.