About two minutes after the photo below was snapped (at Omayel, in D.C. in late April), my conversation with José Andrés proceeded (with a bunch of bear hugs, back slaps and firm handshakes*) as follows:
JA – When you are going to ‘e’?
Me – José, José, José….you know how much I hate tweezer food….and molecular cuisine is soooo 2005, isn’t it?
JA – John, promise me this: Promise me you will go and promise me you go with a closed mind just like you have?
Me – What?
JA – Promise me, John, that you go in expecting to hate it. I want to to expect NOT to like it, so you can see what a wonderful job my team is doing. Will you promise me that?
Me – Huh? Uh…er…okay….I guess. Okay, I’ll go and I’ll keep my mind closed and I’ll expect to hate it and I let your people dazzle me, if they can.
JA – Okay…..then I want your honest opinion of what we are doing there.
Me – Deal.
Then, of course, like a good Greek and Spaniard, we drank on it:
Thus did I become, last week, the 13,326th diner to enter the hallowed door (now in its fifth year of operation) at the back of Jaleo, and take my seat to the 2 1/2 hour, 26 course experience of just about everything I expected to loathe in contemporary, modernist cuisine: