Fäviken : 4015 Days, Beginning to End – Magnus Nilsson (Phaidon)
I had been hoping to review this lovely book back in 2020, but working my way through this weighty tome took a little longer than I had first considered.
Having been fortunate enough to have eaten (and slept) at Fäviken back in the late summer of 2012, I was eager to relive my gastronomic experiences through this book, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I were to state that Nilsson is quite the polymath, as this is his fifth book, and he is a rather skilled and accomplished writer (as well as photographer). Personally I find his writing style most attractive, and I have to say that this may be the first “cookbook” (although it’s not really a cookbook per se) that I have found hard to put down. I find the way he describes the origins and inspirations for the dishes almost hypnotic, and as one progresses through the 4,015 days of Fäviken one can follow his laser-guided focus upon ingredients becoming more and more honed.
One could interpret Fäviken’s (and Nilsson’s) evolution as some kind of quest for perfection à la Blumenthal, but read between the (often poetic) lines and one will discover a Chef’s very personal journey towards an almost abstract apex of authenticity and purity concerning the components that make up the many dishes contained within; it’s almost as if in bringing incredibly specific ingredients together he seeks the ultimate harmonic and gastronomic equilibrium, without ever coming anywhere close to gilding the lilies. And therein lies his magic. From my own experience nine years ago, I can tell you that he is a true master of his art.
There’s certainly a touch of whimsy at play here (see page headed “Things that have been cooked with leaves decomposing under the snow for one winter”), but it’s all very measured and deliberate, much like the man himself.
This book would be a charming and inspiring addition to any kitchen library, and for me, reading this in front of a crackling wood fire has made the challenging transition from 2020 to 2021 so much more bearable (as well as, after a few too many glasses of wine, having me out foraging for decomposed leaves under the snow).
(Five out of a possible five apples)
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that is one dense read, but most worthwhile.