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ice cream made people wince. It made me
think about how our perception of food
is triggered as much by nostalgia and
memories as by our taste buds."
In 2007, Blumenthal created Sound of
the Sea - a dish designed to transform
dining into a multi-sensory experience
that triggered memories. Diners eat edible
'sand' and seafood 'foam' while listening
to seaside sounds, which
intensify the salty
fl avours while forcing
diners to focus on what
they are eating. It has
been fundamental to � e
Fat Duck's approach.
"� e driving force
behind the new menu was
the powerful eff ect Sound
of the Sea has on people.
One couple told me I'd
saved their marriage. � ey'd agreed to
divorce, but had a reservation at the Duck
and thought they might as well honour the
booking. � ey had the dish, and started
talking about their positive memories;
by the end of the meal they were saying:
why are we getting divorced? I got really
inspired by these shared experiences."
� e new menu came into being when
the chef called his friend Eric Fellner,
co-founder of Working Title Films, the
company behind Four Weddings and a
Funeral and Bridget Jones's Diary, who
recommended Billy Elliot writer Lee
Hall. He saw the menu as a day's holiday,
visiting the beach, eating ice cream,
going to the sweet shop. And the idea of
a map was born. Other collaborators were
brought in to work on the menu, including
the magician Chris Cox, the illustrator
Dave McKean and a font expert.
Instead of a menu, diners are handed
a map and a magnifying glass, with the
menu laid out as a 17-course itinerary
under headings such as 'Are we nearly
there yet?' An orb of aerated beetroot and
horseradish cream - a 'mac-air-roon' -
dissolves on the tongue and is designed to
mark what the menu calls the 'change of
air' of arriving on holiday.
Interestingly, some of the dishes that made
Blumenthal's name, such as snail porridge
ice cream, have gone.
Of the 17 new dishes,
only Sound of the Sea
remains, although its form
may vary. Blumenthal
says dishes will become
people's memories might
mean the sound is of
seagulls, for others it
might be the crackle of a
campfi re or the roar of an outboard motor.
� ere are other examples of what
Blumenthal describes as "personalised
nostalgic touches to enhance our guests'
experience". A week or so before eating
at the restaurant, diners are contacted
and asked if they have any favourite
holiday memories. When they called me,
"OUR PERCEPTION OF FOOD
IS TRIGGERED AS MUCH BY
NOSTALGIA AND MEMORIES
AS BY OUR TASTE BUDS"
GROUP PHOTO: LAURIE FLETCHER