FoodDaily Dish

Coi's Daniel Patterson delivers anti-food porn in new cookbook

Envelopes exist to be pushed. There isn’t a good idea that can’t be taken further. And so it goes with “Coi: Stories and Recipes,” the highly anticipated new cookbook from San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson.

One of the more thoughtful of this extremely intellectual new class of chefs, Patterson seems to specialize in what could be considered for want of a better definition “anti-food porn.”

Pare a dish to its most basic elements, juxtapose surprising combinations, shoot it in a chilly light that seems designed to strip away any vestige of romance -- that seems to be the essence of Patterson’s aesthetic, at least as presented in “Coi.”

These are plates calculated to surprise the diner, to be pondered over. No easy cheesy yummies here. Even the titles are cut to the cryptic: “Carrots Roasted in Coffee Beans -- crème fraiche, oats, cilantro.”

That’s a dish designed to challenge, to engage the imagination. What the heck could that be? What could it taste like? Where did it come from?

And that’s even before you look at the picture, which is basically three shards of haphazardly cut carrot arranged over a scattering of what one assumes to be coffee grounds, with a few streaky dollops of crème fraiche and seven nibs of oat. There’s also two sticks of something unexplained (vanilla beans?).

Patterson isn’t out to make things easy for you with the explanations either. The recipes -- by design -- are more like thoughts on process. Each dish has an essay that explicates it, to an extent, as Patterson ruminates on its origins and inspirations.

You will search long and hard for the word “delicious” to appear. That’s not what “Coi” is all about.

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