As the last service at elBulli draws closer and the sun sets on the accompanying "I Ate at elBulli" piece, also known as the IAAEBP, we'd like to point out another journalistic trend: the "I Foraged With René Redzepi Piece." (Hereafter to be known as the IFWRRP.)
Just the other day, Der Spiegel's ran Claudia Voight's tale of eating parking lot plants with Redzepi just outside Copenhagen, but writers from Frank Bruni to Giles Coren have gone down that path before her. It is a tempting topic: go to an exotic locale (the wilds of Denmark, Lapland, or Australia) to eat things no one has ever heard of with the quote-machine chef of the Best Restaurant in the World (Copenhagen's Noma).
Former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni was among the first, to discover wild garden sorrel tastes "sharp and lemony" outside of Copenhagen in the summer of 2010. That fall, reporters started heading farther afield with Redzepi: Times of London critic Giles Coren went to the seashore an hour outside of Copenhagen and finds beach mustard tastes like "the vegetal solution to a solvent-sniffer's seaside cravings." Tasty!
Writer Joe Warwick took a train to Lapland to meet Redzepi for the BBC, and chefs including David Chang and Daniel Patterson followed Redzepi into the wilds of Finland.
Redzepi will even come to you! The chef has gone of foraging expeditions with reporters in London (in a somewhat controversial visit to Hampstead Heath) and the Australian Outback.
Some of the writers get it: Coren digs into "a handful of what, until today, I would have called weeds" after his foraging adventure, and Bruni realizes that Noma is "a relentless questioning of what should and can be eaten." Many of them, however, come across as authors taking their required Redzepi field trip.
It's a fun story to write — and a fun trip to expense — and the obvious (if inescapable) angle to the Noma story. It's an attempt to gain insight into Redzepi's time and place by gathering wild food with the chef. But like the very weeds he forages — although tasty — the IFWRRP will inevitably pop up again and again, and thus we fear: there's more to come.
· All Rene Redzepi Coverage on Eater [-E-]