1080 Recipes Hardcover – Oct 1 2007
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'would cheer up any kitchen.' Sunday Times 'the best Spanish cookbook ... ever! ... truly comprehensive, with clear explanations to help non-natives cook' Observer Food Monthly 'This bible of Spanish cookery is a real classic' Gordon Ramsey, Delicious
About the Author
Simone Ortega has been writing about cooking for over 50 years and three generations of Spaniards have learned to cook through her books on gastronomy, which have sold millions of copies nationwide. She is considered one of the foremost authorities on traditional Spanish cooking, and has contributed articles and recipes to countless newspapers and magazines. 1080 is her most famous and best selling cookbook. Inez Ortega has worked with her mother, Simone, for many years and is an established and highly regarded food writer in her own right.
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First, a few words about the presentation. It would have been nice, in light of Spain's tremendous regional diversity, if the geographical provenance of each recipe had been identified. Too often outsiders have a monolithic view of Spain, its culture and cuisine. Spain is not just the land of paella and sangria - and the best Spanish cookbooks illuminate this culinary mosaic. Certainly, Ortega offers a sweeping itinerary, but she's not much of a tour guide. For that matter, it's always nice when cookbook authors introduce their recipes with brief blurbs that pique both the appetite and the imagination. Casas' The Foods and Wines of Spain, Mendel's Cooking from the Heart of Spain, and Von Bremzen's The New Spanish Table all do a great job with this - but it's entirely lacking here. If you're like me and like stories to go with your food, you'll be disappointed. In fact, there's nothing artful or romantic about Ortega's style. This probably reflects 1080's original purpose as a ready-reference for busy housewives. Very much a no-nonsense, "Joy of Cooking" approach. Ortega's recipes are just that - simply recipes. She doesn't even bother to offer side dish or wine pairing suggestions.
My second and major complaint is that Castilian cuisine is so woefully underrepresented. Inexplicably, such cherished and delectable staples as gallina en pepitoria, pollo al ajillo, cochifrito, judiones, caldereta, patatas revolconas, patatas a la riojana, huevos rotos, migas, and sopa castellana are all missing. Most puzzling of all is the omission of cocido, one of Spain's greatest and most truly "national" dishes. What could Sra. Ortega have been thinking?! (If you'd like to cook these dishes, you can find recipes in Casas' volume cited above. For more on Castilian food, see Mendel's book, which provides excellent coverage of southern Castile ("La Mancha"); northern Castilian cooking is still awaiting treatment in English, but if you can read Spanish, Cocina y gastronomia de Castilla y León is a good source.)
All in all, though, this book is recommended for the serious Spanish cook and fills - literally and figuratively - a wide gap on the shelf. Despite the glaring absence of some recipes, many others are here that are available nowhere else in English. Even if it's not the last word, this is a valuable reference worth owning. That said, for the reasons given above I think there are much better books for newcomers to Spanish cooking. If I had to pick one in English, it would be Casas' - the first in English, and still the best.
A couple weeks later, I purchased a copy of the book in Salamanca. In the three years since my return home, I have carefully steered myself through many rewarding home cooking experiences equipped with 1080 Recetas in one hand and a Spanish-English dictionary in the other. The results are always delightful.
I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this translated version of the book for several months now. I finally received my copy yesterday, and I am happy to report that it does not disappoint! At first sight the gorgeous cover took my breath away. When I opened it I discovered all my favorite recipes inside, lovingly translated to English and converted to U.S. customary units of measurement, beautifully complemented by the vibrant illustrations of Javier Mariscal.
The book does cover everything -- tapas, condiments, sauces, fresh vegetables, quick dishes, and savory meats. The recipes are well written and easy to follow.
To echo Maribel: You must get a copy of this book!
Let me set up a list of points against this book:
1: It is almost insulting to call this book of Spanish cuisine, with recipes on it like Spaghetti Carbonara, Pizza, French Alioli, Tarta Tatin.... It's ok to make a cookbook with a thousand and some recipes but it's not right to market is as a good guide of Spanish cuisine.
The reason I gave it 2 stars it's just because it's interestingly designed and the compilation of recipes is original and it may be useful if you need inspiration on what to cook for dinner, but lets stay it clear although there is a lot of Spanish Plates this is not an Spanish Cuisine compilation.
There is a huge lack of respect of what is and what is not Spanish, there is a long list of self invented recipes and over all, the thing that it annoys me the most is that I could write 50 recipes by heart that are made in any Spanish household, known by any Spanish chef or cooker, unique from Spain and thus widely popular that aren't here, recipes that are trully representative of Spanish cuisine that have been ignored to grant space for silly personal inventions or Italian, French or Chinese food.
Bacalao al pilpil, zarzuela de pescado, tocinillos de cielo, any recipe with cochinillo, espinacas a la catalans, etc,etc,etc are cear examples of what I mean
2: The author: First and foremost, just because you are one of the earliest writers of a recipe book in Spanish language it does not make you an expert in Spanish Cuisine. I just want to give a grafic example Alioli: Spanish Alioli is just garlic, salt and oil. Yes it is hard to make, but in any culinary school of the country you will be ask to made it that way because is the only way that is traditionally Spanish. This is a recipe that goes back to the II ac century in Roman Tarragona and anyone that considers himself and expert should at list mention that this is the way it's made in Spain.
Egg Alioli is a French thing and yes in Spanish households for daily use people will add the egg because the traditional recipe is very hard to obtain, my point is that the author denotes quite a lack of knowledge on history and techniques of traditional Spanish food.
What I imagine is that the author had not any previous reference of a Spanish Food compilation and thus she wrote her book, that book was widely successful and to be fair it probably served well the cause of Spanish cuisine, but Spaniard food experts have walk a long way since this book was first published, history academicians and gastronomy experts have hugely expanded the knowledge of Spanish cuisine but the book has not been properly updated to incorporate that knowledge.
I think it's amazing that there is not even a real recipe of traditional gazpacho, or fancy mayonnaise recipes are passed as the original recipe that was created in Menorca Island.
3: It might be a cool compilation but 75% of those plates can't be done with those poor instructions.
Black Rice recipe (skid ink rice) takes 1:30 hours to be done by someone that knows well how to make it, if you really try to make the black rice with the instructions of the book you are very screwed up there is no way you get any closer to a black rice with those instructions. This shall be respected, thus we are talking about a huge compilation that does not go in-deep on the plates, but still I recomend any person to go to the internet and check longer versions of most of the recipes if they want to cook the plates:
4: Seafood sections:
As one of the 4 largest consumers of fish par capita in the world and having the second highest seafood par capita consumption in the globe, this sections feels way too short, the short amount of seafood recipes is unacceptable, a Spanish traditional fish shop can carry in a year 30 to 50 varieties in between shellfish and crustaceous, the book talks about Langosta (lobster) there are 4 different words to define animals that would look like a lobster but what Spaniards call lobster is an imported crustaceous that although it is consumed it's not commonly used, The reference to King crab is way weird , (king crab was introduced in the end of the nineties and it isn't the crab that the book refers too) and the weirdest mistake is the reference to the word Langostino? what the book refers as langostino is known as to cigala and she does not make the diference in between Shrimp and prawn (langostino y gamba) thus she is using wrong the word langostino which is shrimp to refer to another animal completely different, again the book has not been properly updated and the terms used are just old and not used any more the way the book refers to them. In general the seafood part is a mess.
5: Meat: The drawings of Spanish butchery cuts are astonishing poor and absolutely unacceptable, they are also wrongly named. As an Spaniard one should admit that Saxon style of bouching is way more complex than Southern European, Spanish is a bit simpler than Deutch or American, there is a few less cuts also you would not find processes meet aging. Still one thing is a that the cuts are different and you might find less cuts, the other thing is that you draw a pig and you mark 5 cuts when any Spanish Househusband/housewife can name you easily 10 without been an expert.
6 Desserts: This is the messiest recollection the one that makes less sense of all and it does not even pay the while to spend anytime writing about it or even reading it t, it could be literally striped out of the book and the book would even win some value.
7: THe translation: My suggestion would be that the translator of the book should be expelled out of Spain immediately and permanently, there is no mistakes, the translator has no shame, and he/she has no respect for Spanish heritage , as an example Pisto (Sanfaina) shall not be translated as ratatouille, first and foremost why do Spanish terms need to be adapted to French or Italian words specially when those foods have their origin in Spain?, or like in this case, yes ratatouille is original from France, but if there is any resemblance in between ratatouille and pisto is mere coincidence as we say in Spain this is like trying to compare "the speed" versus the bacon, which comes to say you are trying to compare things that aren't related at all. I don't want to extend myself more in the way things have been translated, but as an Spaniard I feel almost insulted by the way it has been translated .
8: Units: As it has been mention by other reviewers the unit transformation does not make sense, luckilly Spanish cuisine is very lax, but sometimes you need exact measurements to obtain a product and then you are screw up.
So in the end as we say in Spain Si esto es la Biblia de la cocina española que baje Dios y lo vea, If this is The Bible of Spanish Cuisine May God come down and strike me (Literal translation) If this is the Bible of Spanish cuisine take my hat thus I will have to eat it.
PS: I swear I don't have any stock in Simone Ortega's books, but wish I had!