Home Food & Recipes Fine Dining and the Ethics of Noma’s Meticulously Crafted Fruit Beetle

Fine Dining and the Ethics of Noma’s Meticulously Crafted Fruit Beetle


While these kitchens represent the smallest sliver of the restaurant business, they are powerful and influential, and have received an outsize amount of attention. They also maintain voracious international cult followings. Wealthy tourists and business travelers plan trips around reservations, and some even become regulars in dining rooms halfway around the world from where they live.

Few institutions have drawn attention and money to this niche like the annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Since it began in 2002, in Restaurant magazine, the 50 Best list has been an unofficial guide for tourism boards planning their budgets, food and drink sponsors ogling deals, producers looking for subjects of documentaries and ambitious young cooks considering where to intern.

A few years ago, I wrote about how a certain kind of over- the-top meal, no matter how perfectly executed, had a way of making me feel like a character in a sci-fi movie who had sneaked onto a spaceship for the 1 percent, orbiting a burning planet. I might admire the technical skill, the precision and craftsmanship, the beauty of a dish, but sometimes none of that mattered: It was too much.


In 2015, after going to Noma’s Tokyo pop-up on assignment for Bloomberg News, I wrote about how I practically dissociated when confronted with the first course: a shrimp so recently butchered, it was still twitching in front of me, blowing bubbles from its sharp, pointed beak, its sticky body covered in raw, chilled ants.

There was pleasure throughout that strangely beautiful, sometimes aggressive and consistently energetic meal, including, most unexpectedly, in that unnerving dish. And I joked afterward that everyone in the dining room would need to experience increasingly freakish, intense and extreme forms of luxury just to feel alive.

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