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How Jordi Roca applies the enfleurage technique to achieve the aroma of an old book 

Jordi Roca so good #31

March 26, 2024
Jordi Roca so good #31
How Jordi Roca applies the enfleurage technique to achieve the aroma of an old book 

Jordi Roca is one of the chefs who could not be missing from the rogue pastry section included in so good.. magazine 31. In addition to presenting uninhibited desserts at the Celler de Can Roca, he shows his most irreverent side in his own projects such as Rocambolesc ice cream parlor, La Confiteria, and, more recently, La Bikineria.

He acquired the rules, precision, and method of pastry from Damian Allsop, and from Angelo Corvitto he learned everything about ice cream. Once these bases were internalized, he continued having fun, dreaming, and provoking.

One of his most transgressive desserts, of which we give details and step-by-step instructions in the magazine, is Old book aroma. A proposal in which the pages of Marcel Proust’s most famous novel are eaten while the diner licks a drop of essence of an old book from their hand. Something he achieves thanks to the enfleurage perfumery technique, a very common resource in his desserts.

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What does the enfleurage perfumery technique consist of?

The technique called enfleurage is used to obtain the essential oil from fresh flowers thanks to the absorption power of a deodorized fatty material. It is an ancestral and extractive method, respectful of the flower and its perfume, which is particularly ideal for fragile flowers such as rose, jasmine, violet, varieties known from Provence.


How does Jordi Roca work with enfleurage in his Old book aroma dessert

In the dessert Old book aroma, Jordi Roca applies this method to extract the scent of an old book as emblematic in the history of world literature as  is ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ by Marcel Proust.

The dessert invites the diner to break with the usual rules or protocols in the tasting of a dish. This is done fundamentally in two ways. On the one hand, a drop of solution of the aroma of the old book is dispensed on the back of the diner’s hand as a pairing element, and on the other, edible, printed pages from the French writer’s novel are incorporated as another element of the dessert in the form of rice paper.


“The dessert invites the diner to break with the usual rules or protocols in the tasting of a dish”


In addition, the concept known as Proust’s madeleine (also Proust phenomenon or Proustian effect) is introduced, in which a perception, especially smell, evokes a memory. The name comes from the memory evoked by the taste of a freshly baked madeleine dipped in tea of the protagonist of ‘Du côté de chez Swann’ (the first volume of the series ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’), written in 1913. In allusion to this madeleine and the phenomenon related to olfactory memory, Roca incorporates a semifreddo of madeleine in the shape of the pastry product, as well as crumbled madeleine on the plate. Evidently, the tasting of the old book essence closes the circle of this olfactory game.


A career full of ‘inventions’

This dessert is just another example of Roca’s overflowing imagination, which we talked about extensively in this macro-retrospective.

A career full of ‘inventions’ in which there is a dessert that became a turning point: Trip to Havana (1998) in which smoke is incorporated into fat molecules. “It was a turning point for me, I saw that he was capable of doing something new. It was in an ice cream making course with Angelo Corvitto in which he insisted that when we made ice cream, the workshop had to be completely deodorized. Ice cream, by incorporating air, has a great capacity to retain aromas from the environment, I thought… And what happens? If we deliberately “dirty” the environment to incorporate an “aroma”? Thus arose the primitive idea of what later became the smoke pipe that has become popular to this day throughout the world. A pure ice cream, covered in chocolate, accompanied by a lemon gel mojito, mint granita, and white rum candy,” he explains.


Soul of a perfumer

Focusing more on the importance of smell in Jordi Roca’s proposals, we want to take a look at his collection of dishes that recreate perfume aromas. The starting point was bergamot and the first proposal was a first adaptation of Eternity by Calvin Klein, in 2001. “My dream was to make a dessert from a perfume, so I imagined it. I took aromatic elements that could combine taste level, like yuzu, bergamot, lemon, butter, milk, sponge cake… All looking for the idea of Proust’s madeleine soaked in milk.

To take things even further, in 2011, alongside the perfumer Agustí Vidal, he launched a perfume based on the dessert Núvol de Llimona, based on bergamot cream, lemon albedo, yuzu gel, distilled lemon peel granita, lemon cupcake, and ice cream from the same Cupcake, with some fine lemon sugars on top.


Lactic Dessert, a great example of enfleurage

In addition to Old book Aroma, Roca uses the enfleurage technique in many proposals. Among all of them we highlight the legendary Lactic Dessert (2003). “We make a perfume from sheep’s wool, we package Ripollesa sheep’s wool with acetate in a vacuum, for 12 hours. We strain and distill in the broken vacuum steam, we reserve the aroma to accompany the dish, (it is not eaten! It is only smelled).We serve a sweet Ripollesa sheep’s milk, a few drops of guava jam, a few drops of sheep’s yogurt, a sheep’s cottage cheese foam, a sheep’s milk ice cream, more cottage cheese foam, a cloud of sugar, some sheets of dehydrated sheep’s milk cream. And eat by bringing the spoon close to the entire plate, which has a very particular acoustic that reminds us of the sheep’s bell,” he details.


Discover these recipes by Jordi Roca in So good.. #31