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TECHNOLOGY

Science creates gastronomic storm

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Ferran Adria says surprise is an essential part of the El Bulli experience

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Science and Technology
Barcelona (Spain)
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(CNN) ROSES, Spain -- Bright green truffles, carrot-flavored foam and liquid that tastes like olives may sound like odd dishes, but they are among those that have helped Spanish restaurant El Bulli earn its reputation as one of the best in the world.

For chef Ferran Adria, creating these unusual dishes requires him to be a scientist and chemist as much as a cook, combining science, art and haute cuisine.

The gastronomic innovator and his team serves diners a 27-course meal full of weird-sounding food.

To start there is "pistachio truffle cooled in liquid nitrogen" or "air of carrot," a beautifully presented dish of frothy carrot foam.

For something a bit more filling, there is butter ravioli wrapped in a gelatin of marine water, and for dessert, there is "finely spun caramel," or a course simply called "liquid," which is peach dipped in liquid hydrogen.

The meals made in his kitchen are often described by food critics as "revolutionary," and Adria told CNN the concept behind creating such unusual dishes was to deconstruct the food and create tastes which startle and surprise the palette.

He says not knowing what you about to eat is a key part of the El Bulli experience.

"If you know nothing about what to expect, it's like magic," Adria told CNN. "When we see creativity we should not have have too much information."

Even a humble olive in this kitchen is not what it seems. Instead, its texture is different -- it is smoother, a bit like a liquid olive.

For six months each year, Adria closes El Bulli and travels in a quest for gastronomic inspiration, then returns to his Barcelona laboratory where he experiments with new tastes, temperatures and textures.

His ground-breaking techniques have inspired other chefs throughout the world to experiment.

"In 1998, we created hot gelatine. Until then, we only had cold gelatine in the world. No one could understand there could be warm gelatine.

"Thanks to this technique we've opened the door to thousands of chefs who now create new dishes based on this technique," Adria said.

Using new or uncommon techniques, including warm jellies, foams or liquid nitrogen, have helped Adria to challenge the basic concepts of popular food.

"A concept is different to a technique. Salty ice cream isn't a new technique, it's a new concept. Because the technique is the same technique as creating a sweet ice cream, but it's the concept that's different. The great new concept is a cuisine which is both salty and frozen,cold."

His culinary combinations might seem odd but he is commonly regarded as one of the greatest chefs in the world.

El Bulli has three prestigious Michelin stars and the waiting list for a table is at least a year long.

CNN's Robyn Curnow contributed to this report

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