Chefs have long been inspired by the beauty of nature’s bounty, from vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables to delicate herbs, but lately many of them have taken on a less attractive muse: dirt.Fueled by a focus on farm-to-table cuisine as well as the proliferation of the techniques of molecular gastronomy, chefs are making what they usually dub “soil” from such varying ingredients as chocolate cookie crumbs, beets and mushrooms. “If I serve it with vegetables and it’s meant to ...

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