The taste of spices


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I was lucky enough to be born in a malouinière, a privateer’s house from the 18th century in which Robert Surcouf played as a child. Sailors’ songs, tales of Cape Horn, Terres Neuvas and the spice traders of the India Company fed my early years. As I got older, books telling of sailors and adventures continued to quench my thirst for travel and new encounters.

Having come to cooking by accident, after I was nearly killed in a murder attempt, I felt the need to tell of the joy of being alive, between sky and sea facing the horizon. I chose cooking as my form of expression. But a style of cooking that is free, based on vegetables, seafood and adventures.

To translate this spirit that is specific to Saint-Malo, I developed a passion for the spices that were already present within the walls of this maritime city in the 17th and 18th centuries, spices from the East and the New World.

I read, reread and travelled with Jane to the four corners of the Earth, following the routes of the great families of shipbuilders from St-Malo. We sailed the coasts of South America, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, the Mascarene Isles, Malabar, Maluku, Southeast Asia and Africa. My challenge was to tell the story of the maritime adventures of my Brittany. 

I then used the spices that I brought back, like other sailors did before me, but by drawing on the images that their scents evoke. A bit like the seeds of a lost paradise, a garden of Eden. After all, didn’t westerners sail the seas in search of this lost paradise ?

I started to build flavours with this palette of tastes, scents and immense flavours to obtain a mix, a powder that would intervene in a dish like punctuation in literature. 

The addition of this new flavour that is the spice powder allows well-known products to suddenly seem different, surprising, dizzying and completely seductive; just as punctuation allows the writer to create a rhythm, a tempo, a style, and highlights the hidden face of words. Similarly, why not try and show the hidden face of a particular food? 

Meeting the spices is like discovering universes, meeting men and women, who live with little but who, thanks to their generosity and the harmony they preserved with nature, are, in reality, the beauty of this world. 

Bonds are forged: with Gigi and her vanilla scented women at the bottom of the Luna mountain, Monsieur Jean and his noble pepper from Madagascar, father Olivier in Cambodia, Elias Garcia in Mexico, Monsieur Poitaya in India, Maï in North Vietnam… They all bring me enchanted notes that allow me to compose this music of spices so that everyone can discover and seize this wonderful universe. 

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