Spanish Kitchen, The
Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories from Spain
Clarissa Hyman; photography by Peter Cassidy
9" x 10 1/4" • 160 pages • full-color photos
"From Food Writer of the Year, comes The Spanish Kitchen: Regional Ingredients, Recipes and Stories from Spain. With, arguably, the world's finest restaurant, El Bulli, and many of Europe's most imaginative chefs as residents, Spain is far from a culinary outpost. Hyman's book reminds us that the contemporary Spanish kitchen remains inextricably linked to age-old farming practices touched by Roman, Arabic, Jewish, and new world influences. Each chapter highlights a particular native ingredient from one of Spain's seventeen provinces. Reus hazelnuts, for instance, add depth to her Catalan Squid, Clam, and Potato Stew; from Rioja, land of vines, we discover orchards of pear trees, and recipes like Duck Breast with Honey-Spiced Pears."
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Spanish food has been shaped by many influences: among them Roman, Arabic, Jewish, and the products brought back by the Conquistadores from the New World. There are many common threads within the cooking of Spain, from salt cod to saffron, and on the whole, Spanish home cooking throughout the Peninsula is simple, uncomplicated, and direct, with a singular lack of adornment on the plate. This could be austere, were it not for the strong, true flavors of prime ingredients rooted in the local terra (terroir) that need no disguise or affectation. Yet, for both historical and geographical reasons, the sense of regional identity and separatism remains strong in the many provinces (kingdoms) of Spain, and this is also proudly reflected in the cooking. The North-West of Spain, for example, probably has more in common with other Celtic countries than it does with Moorish Andalusia. Centuries of isolation from the rest of Europe has also safeguarded many wonderful ingredients that even now remain unknown both outside their region of origin and outside of the country.
Nonetheless, in the last 30 years change has been rapid: the Spanish are fully part of new Europe; they are interested in new modes of eating, new dishes, new lifestyles. Many Spanish kitchens now boast Maldon Salt and Parmesan cheese as status symbols, and magazines offer Spanish takes on Chinese cooking and low-fat recipes for modern Spanish mothers. Although there has been a rush to industrialize food production—TV commercials advertising ready made paellas, for example, are no longer seen as subversive—there has been a parallel growth in Spanish pride in quality products and a determination to safeguard their unique Iberian heritage. Perhaps more than any other people in Europe, the Spanish have one foot in their unique culinary past, one in the global present. The future of Spanish food, cooking, and traditions, remains an open and intriguing question.
The book is divided into 17 chapters, each highlighting a different ingredient or ingredients from a different region of Spain. These introductory narratives tell the story of each ingredient in terms of culture, history, cultivation, traditions, location, context, and so on, and above all bring the products to life by talking to the producers themselves. Each essay is then followed by a selection of five recipes using the product.
The ingredients have been selected so they represent a cross-section of Spanish produce: some familiar, others less so, some expected, some surprising, some artisan, and some larger-scale.
Clarissa Hyman is a freelance food and travel writer. In 2000, she won the prestigious Food Journalist of the Year award from the Guild of Food Writers. A former television producer, she brings to her evocative writing a love of storytelling, an interest in people and places, plus a lifelong passion for good food. Hyman has contributed to a wide range of publications including Food and Travel, Country Living, and The Times (London).
Peter Cassidy is a leading food and interiors photographer, and his marriage into a Sicilian family has brought a unique perspective to his exuberant work on this title. Cassidy contributes regularly to Food and Travel magazine.
"Clarissa Hyman's book The Spanish Kitchen showcases the foods of Spain like a travel guide: the chapters are divided by region and by ingredients. The lavishly illustrated volume is full of lush pictures of historic statues, soaring cathedrals and people in the tiny villages. It's also a great resource for those who'd like to learn more about the fresh, approachable food of this country. Among the ingredients discussed by the author are manchego cheese, which she uses in wonderful fritters, and the mussels of Galicia, appearing here in a sprightly entree flavored with saffron. From Valencia, Hyman chooses to highlight oranges, and the recipes here for an orange and avocado salad and a duck in orange sauce were both delicious. This is a great book to browse through at the beach, when you have time to plan leisurely summer meals."
—New York Daily News
“Part cookbook, part travelogue and part history lesson—albeit an engaging one—this volume offers an epicure's tour of Spain, with recipes. It's divided into chapters by region, each focusing on a specific ingredient (or two) that is a source of local pride and providing a brief, food-oriented history. In the chapter on Castile-Madrid, for example, Chinch—n garlic is the ingredient of choice, and recipes include Garlic and Chile Shrimp, and Spicy Monkfish with Saffron and Chilies. Other chapters go from savory to sweet, as in the La Rioja chapter, which features pears in Duck Breast with Honey-Spiced Pears, Pears Poached in Moscatel and Spices, and Rioja Pear Cake. The Valencia chapter showcases oranges in Toasted Bread with Garlic and Orange, Hake in Orange and Saffron Sauce, and Delicias (an almond and chocolate confection). Recipes are generally simple and often rustic... The color photos by Peter Cassidy are honest; they don't try too hard to make things look modern or slick when they simply are not. Together with the text, they provide an authentic look into Spanish cuisine and the areas where it is prepared.”
“A lively introduction to the regional diversity of Spanish food... 2002 Glenfiddich Food Writer of the Year, Hyman explores the varied regions and ingredients of Spain in her third book. Similar in format to her previous work, Cucina Siciliana, this book is divided into chapters, each dedicated to one of the 17 regions of Spain, complete with histories, stories, and recipes. Highlighting foods and spices such as sobrassada, piment—n de la Vera, and bonito del norte, the narrative and 75 recipes illustrate how interaction with many cultures over the centuries has affected Spanish cuisine. a lively introduction to the regional diversity of Spanish food.... Recommended...”
“From Interlink and Clarissa Hyman, 2002 Glenfiddich Food Writer of the Year, comes The Spanish Kitchen: Regional Ingredients, Recipes and Stories from Spain. With, arguably, the world's finest restaurant, El Bulli, and many of Europe's most imaginative chefs as residents, Spain is far from a culinary outpost. Hyman's book reminds us that the contemporary Spanish kitchen remains inextricably linked to age-old farming practices touched by Roman, Arabic, Jewish, and new world influences. Each chapter highlights a particular native ingredient from one of Spain's seventeen provinces. Reus hazelnuts, for instance, add depth to her Catalan Squid, Clam, and Potato Stew; from Rioja, land of vines, we discover orchards of pear trees, and recipes like Duck Breast with Honey-Spiced Pears.”
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