Suzu's flakes of salt
Cook It Raw 2011 - Road to Raw, episode 5
Can you make gastronomy and ecology go together? A dozen international chefs who met in Copenhagen two years ago have set out precisely to ask this question, but also to give answers to it. On the fringes of the world summit on global warming, they rose to the challenge of composing a meal based on local ingredients using as little energy as possible.
Result: an unprecedented meal, uncooked, which took nothing away from the original taste of the products.
The experience of this crude cooking, almost “raw”, caused deep reflection on the future of our diet, and equally on our food. It also gave rise to a movement: Cook It Raw, which takes our chefs from destination to destination, close to the land, flavours and people.
Frioul, in Italy, then welcomed our “taste adventurers”. Then Lapland, where the challenge was even greater: it comprised, in effect, composing a unique meal based on products which were harvested, fished and hunted on the spot! A new adventure awaits them now in Japan. In mid-November they are going to touch down in Tokyo, before going on to Ishikawa prefecture on the east coast of Honshu. Nespresso, privileged partner of a movement which is close to these values, as humane as it is environmental, is once again on board.
Amongst other island treasures, the Cook It Raw team is expected on the Suzu coast, an area situated in the extreme east of the Noto peninsula, a projection of lush land which seems to defy the waves of the Japanese sea.
There, at the foot of terraced rice paddies, which sculpt the chiselled appearance of the fields, survives a small community of salt workers, who often work as a family. It’s a job which has nearly disappeared in Japan as it’s a narrow piece of coastal land between the sea and the mountain. Another difficulty is that the low salinity of the sea water which stops the job from being carried out as it is in the classic salt marshes. This feature requires the producers, remaining faithful to the methods of their ancestors, to filter the sea water across a vast field of sand. A field which is reminiscent of the famous dry gardens (karesansui) or Japanese zen gardens, composed of sand on which you draw, with the help of a rake, stylised waves to evoke the absence of the water.
The work that you can see on this film is long, repetitive and very physical. It’s almost a fight to drag from the waves a little of this snow, these precious flakes of salt which will season the dishes of the greatest restaurants in the country. Extracting the salt, the essence of the sea and the mountains of this traditional land, is what the chefs have come to do in Ishikawa.
The story does not say whether they too will have to water the field of sand for hours before harvesting what they need to season their meal…
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