Alain Ducasse began cooking in France in 1972. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded nineteen Michelin stars. Ducasse is considered one of the most influential chefs of the French culinary scene. Today, his restaurant empire spans the globe.
I would begin with a caponata. This is a Sicilian specialty made of peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini and flavored with honey and almonds. It is a light and delicious way to start the meal, with a definitive Mediterranean note. I would then have roasted quails in a Madiran wine sauce. With this dish, we move to the southwest of France, my home region, where the Madiran wine is from. Then would come smooth celeriac (celery root) purée with nutmeg, whose delicate lightness would pair marvelously with these small birds. I would finish with “melt-in-your-mouth apple slices.” These four recipes are some of the ones we created for the astronauts in the French Space Agency, and we call them “food for extreme pleasure.”
I would choose to go to Mars for my last supper, but not because I have become bored with terrestrial pleasures. The reason for this remote location is that, because of my training and consulting department, ADF (Alain Ducasse Formation), I’ve been commissioned by the European Space Agency and the French Space Agency to prepare the “special event meals” for the astronauts of the International Space Station. I’ve also been commissioned by the ESA to create meals the astronauts of the Mars mission could eat not only during their several-month-long trip, but meals they could continue to eat after their arrival by growing the actual ingredients on Mars!
I would drink a Flower Power, an alcohol-free cocktail created by Thierry Hernandez, director of the bar at the Plaza Athénée, in Paris, Earth. This is a flower-flavored water, enriched with revitalizing oxygen – a futuristic thirst-quencher.
A tune would probably float in my mind – the song written in 1954 by Bart Howard and immortalized ten years after by Frank Sinatra: “Fly Me to the Moon.” Can you hear it?
I would have three companions: Takayama Tatsuhiro, chef of a tiny restaurant, surprisingly called Tout Le Monde, in Osaka, Japan. He is one of the most sophisticated chefs in Japan and a master of both contemporary Western techniques and Japanese millenary traditions. Jean-Paul Veziano, who, in the old district of Antibes on the French Mediterranean coast, is one of the most inspired bakers and keeps alive the authentic Provençal tradition of pissaladière (a tart of onions flavored with pissalat, a condiment made from the salting and subsequent fermentation of tiny anchovy-like fish). And Joseph Minocchi, a farmer whose ranch, White Crane Springs, is in Healdsburg, in northern California. The herbs (like sage and marjoram) and vegetables (like miner’s lettuce and watercress) he produces are outstanding. All three are bridges between yesterday and today, between the land and the plate, and between cultures. They embody various manners of eating well and responsibly.
Alain Souliac, who is the chef at Ostapé, the country inn I opened in the French Basque region a couple of years ago. Who else could it be? Here on Earth, I prepare food for the astronauts in the same ultra-technological laboratory where I prepare very traditional, peasant-style boudin noir (a black sausage made of pork blood). I like that such different foods, representing old and new, can emerge from one place. It pushes our idea of food in new directions, and celebrates the pleasure of eating, whatever the situation.
March 13th, 2012 11:30 am