The best thing I tasted last month may have been a lobe of fresh cacao fruit straight from its pod, a pale, glistening thing whose sweet essence whispered of litchi, vanilla and perhaps guanabana, with a crunchy seed whose rich bittersweetness barely hinted at the flavor of what most of its kind is destined to become. The second best may have been a young coconut at whose bottom rested a bit of caviar and a spoonful of coconut cream — I was directed to gently glide my spoon across the translucent flesh, scooping up perhaps a gram or two of the delicate jelly that coated its surface. The third may have been a sliced tiny banana, slicked with seaweed oil and dotted with a paste made with its own burnt peel.
Chocolate, coconut and bananas — flavors as familiar as childhood and as old as time, transformed or detransformed, presented in ways that in retrospect make them seem almost mystically of a time and of a place. And if somebody had read me the last sentence without pointing out that he had experienced these things at Noma Mexico in Tulum, I might have snorted hot coffee out of my nose. René Redzepi’s cooking is transformative, but it always sounds kind of weird.