YOU COULD SAY it all started with a deconstructed lasagna. When a small, century-old, family-run saltworks in Maldon, England, got a call from El Bulli, they couldn’t have imagined what would happen next. Wanted: one case of their finest crystals, in perfectly uniform but oversize pyramid shapes, individually wrapped in cotton wool and dispatched in haste to Ferran Adrià—the finishing touch for his latest culinary creation.
It was the mid-1990s, and the revered Spanish chef’s molecular gastronomy had yet to filter through to the masses; to anyone outside the business, treating salt crystals like precious jewels would have seemed like madness. Today? Not so much.