Atlantean dinner, an extravaganza culinary experience

Tonight, you’re going to eat an Atlantean dinner.

Well, that’s not really the kind of things you expect to hear when you get up in the morning. However, it did happen. A friend of us invited us to come enjoy an Atlantean dinner cooked by a friend of him, Montino Bourbon, who lives in Santa Barbara and was in Paris for a week.
Before going straight into the first forkful, an Atlantean dinner requires a bit of explanation if you are, just like me, still wondering what it could be.

It starts with flower boat cuisine which is a specific type of food preparation and presentation that belongs to the flower boat style of Atlantean cooking. Flower boats were usually moored in a harbor, a river, or a lake, and were places where one could eat, socialize, and entertain and be entertained.

Flower Boat cuisine was typified by a three-part preparation for the main course, consisting of:
– The vehicle: usually a starch such as rice, noodles, any type of bread, or even such things as lettuce leaves and other vegetable holders for…
– …the message, or meaning; conveyed on or with the vehicle, this was a preparation of meat, vegetables or protein of any kind that was carried by the vehicle.
– And finally the sauce, which was the accent that was put on top of the message to season it.

Diners would take some vehicle, such as a tortilla or some rice, put a preparation of some kind of protein such as meat, fish, or one of the many vegetarian proteins on top of that, and top it with the sauce. Remind you of something? This particular way of eating was actually the beginning of Tapas in Spain, Sushi in Japan, Dim sum in China, and small-food and hand-food traditions in various other countries. Here we come!

The “sauce” itself was actually seven sauces, divided in seven specific flavors: sweet, salty, caprotic or musky, sour, bland or creamy, herby such as with mint or cilantro, spicy or hot, and all of these were ruled by the most formal sauce, ketchup, which absolutely no banquet could be without. The first step to umami…

The meal always started with the welcome drink served by the chef. He would come out of the kitchen to meet the diners to understand the current mood, which dictated the makeup of this drink and the meal.

I can’t remember the name of the welcome drink served that evening but I still have in mind the different dishes cooked by our most obedient chef:

Braised Chinese cabbage with ginger
Stirfry peppers and onions
Roasted chicken
Beets with onions
Tapenade, baba ganoush, olives, sausage, dried tomatoes
Spicy fennel sauce
Sweet ginger and basil sauce
Pita bread as the vehicle.

Only the floating boat was missing that night but even in our Parisian flat, we could feel a strange atmosphere in the air, as if we were taking part of a unique experience. After all, even many years later, food is still the best way to socialize, entertain and be entertained.

Sweet ginger and basil sauce
1 thumb of ginger
the jus of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of honey
1 handful of basil
A pinch of salt
(Proportion can be changed according to taste)

Chop the ginger, the garlic very finely and roughly chop the basil.
Mixed with lemon, honey and just enough salt to flavour it but not enough to make it salty.
Add the basil Mix everything together as add a bit of water if it is too thick.

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