Ferran Adrià Makes Progress on His 35-Volume Culinary Encyclopedia
“I have a question,” the iconic chef Ferran Adrià told the New York Times. “What is wine? A drink? Maybe it is a drink if I put it in a cup. But what if I make it into a sauce and cook with it? Now, what if I turn the wine into ice cream? What is it then?”
These are the questions the three-Michelin-starred chef is attempting to tackle in his upcoming book, volume II of Bebidas. Titularly dedicated to drinks, it will be a 365-degree exploration of their semantics, history, technical composition and culture. The first installment, a 563-page tome published only in Spanish, was released last November. In quintessential Adrià style, the volume prides itself on pushing conceptual boundaries. According to Eater, two more volumes are expected this year.
"There are only two liquids in the world that are not elaborate beverages,” Adrià has said. “Mountain water and freshly milked milk. All others must be classified as processed beverages." In the seven books to follow in this series, he’ll be exploring them: wine, beer, liquor, spirits and coffee.
The entire 35-volume culinary encyclopedia will “hold every bit of gastronomic knowledge every uncovered,” Adrià has told Eater, and also aims to be its own “culinary wikipedia,” housed at bullipedia.net. (The site is currently under construction.)
“This is the project of crazy people, and it will take years and years to fully build,” Adrià says. Best known for pioneering the field of molecular gastronomy—he’s basically the godfather of foam—he closed down his world renowned restaurant elBulli in 2011, stunning the culinary world. He opened a non-profit foundation of the same name, and has since been working on intersectional projects in technology, education and creativity—only one of which is Bullipedia. Among the chef’s ambitious plans are elBulli 1846, a gastronomic research lab and exhibition space.
Adrià started his career as a dishwasher at 18, and joined already-existing restaurant elBulli at 22, after being drafted as a military cook. Less than two years later, he was head chef. These days, the industry-changing chef reportedly charges upwards of $97,000 for one hour lectures about creativity. With his elBulli foundation, he’s aiming to make this same level of inquiry available and accessible to people for a lot less: his first Bebidas book sells for about $94 a pop.