"There is a silent language of cooking over a wood fire that is impossible to write down. You learn instinctively, by touching, smelling, doing. You have to feel this desire to flirt with fire.Francis Mallmann, Argentinean cook
To open this new series of articles dedicated to cooking over a wood fire, the slightly provocative sentence of Francis Mallmann, the Argentinean chef who cooks exclusively over a wood fire (even in a garden in the middle of Brooklyn) has inspired me enormously. Cooking over a wood fire is perhaps impossible to write. I'm going to try anyway.
Cooking over a fire and turning off the power
To cook over a wood fire is above all to establish an intimate, secret and personal relationship with the fire. It is also about "cutting the power", literally, of course, but also figuratively. Without electricity, everything goes wild. Somewhere inside you, an inner light will come on. A feeling, a presentiment, an extremely distant memory, as if from the depths of time. To feed, to heat, to ward off danger: these are the great basics of human life. Without electricity, all this becomes fragile, uncertain, exciting. Wild.
Cooking over a fire and using all our senses
In front of a pot on a fire, you will suddenly start using all your senses. How to cook without plates, knobs, ovens and all kinds of aids? It's both a simple and exciting challenge. You'll feel your way around. You will try to light this fire that refuses to be lit, indocile and playful. Once the fire is lit, you will have to learn how to dose it. Add a log, or remove it. Use the embers, watch the heat. Listen to the song of the fire. Taste. Smell. To change.
Cooking and reconnecting
It is at this precise moment that what we call today "disconnection" will occur. It is perhaps of "reconnection" that we should speak. This moment when we feel so terribly...alive. Connected to something bigger than oneself. Yes, you will whisper secret prayers to the gods known only to you. Howl your joy when that spark you are trying to get out of that damn piece of metal finally agrees to join the twigs. Sketch that little dance you used to do as a child, when you were victorious in some terrible battle... Feel very powerful, because this warrior, this warrior who was sleeping inside you is there again, inside you, with his song modelled on the beats of your heart.
And finally this meal... ah this meal! So good. We have to eat it right away. Don't try to bring it home. In the wild, everything tastes different. Once locked in a fridge, it will lose all its magic. And that's what you're looking for, isn't it? The magic of the present moment.
If your wild nature titillates you, join me for a "cooking on a wood fire" event. Everything will be ready to make you live a moment out of time. The fire and I are waiting for you.