Postcard: Spain

Is food art? A famous chef courts controversy by participating in a major European fine-art festival. We travel to his restaurant near Barcelona to find out

Hector Mediavilla / Polaris for TIME

Chefs at El Bulli whip up ingenious edible creations.

Franziska and Gerhard Flögel are a middle-aged German couple who love and collect art. In early July they traveled to this remote cove in northeastern Spain to visit the creator in his studio. They toured his inner sanctum in appreciative silence. They marveled at his unusual materials, his precise execution, his sheer ingenuity. And then, like everyone else at El Bulli, they sat down and ate the master's work.

El Bulli may be the most fussed-over restaurant in the world, its 33-course meals the object of countless gastronomic pilgrimages, its 8,000 reservations per season snapped up in a single day, its...

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