The Food of Spain Hardcover – Jun 7 2011
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“After a series of fascinating essays on the historical forces that led to the creation of various Spanish cuisines (among others: Celts and Jews, Frenchmen, monks, peasants and royals), Roden slips into the kitchen to deliver the goods.” (Sam Sifton, New York Times Book Review)
From the Back Cover
In The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden, the James Beard award-winning author of the classics A Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food, and one of our foremost authorities on Mediterranean, North African, and Italian cooking, brings her incomparable authenticity, vision, and immense knowledge to bear in this cookbook on the cuisines of Spain.
New York Times bestselling cookbook author Claudia Roden believes that through food a cook can reconstruct an entire world. And in her classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food–eight hundred recipes long, a treasure trove of folk tales, proverbs, stories, poetry, and local history–that's just what she did. Historian and critic Simon Schama has said of her that "Claudia Roden is no more a simple cookbook writer than Marcel Proust was a biscuit baker." The Book of Jewish Food, another classic, is equally magnificent in its span, a cookbook that is also a history of Jewish life and settlement, told through the story of what Jews ate, and where, and why, and how they made it.
Now, in The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden applies that same remarkable insight, scope, and authority to a cuisine marked by its regionalism and suffused with an unusually particular culinary history. In hundreds of exquisite recipes, Roden explores both the little known and the classic dishes of Spain–from Andalusia to Asturias, from Catalonia to Galicia. And whether she's writing about smoky, nutty Catalan Romesco sauce, Cordero a la Miel–sweet and hot tender lamb stew with honey–or the iconic, emblematic national dish of Spain, saffron-perfumed Paella Valenciana, her clear, elegant, humorous, and passionate voice is a reader's delight, a guide not only to delicious food but to the peoples and cultures that produced it.
Both comprehensive and timeless, The Food of Spain is one of the most important books on this tremendous cuisine to appear in the last fifty years. A classic in the making, it is an essential work not only for fans of Spanish and Mediterranean food but for every serious cook as well as discerning armchair travelers.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I like the style of the book.
I like the style of the writing.
If you only have one book on Spanish cooking this should be it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is a decent book about traditional Spanish food, but it lacks the passion so apparent in The New Spanish Table (or for that matter the author's own The New Book of Middle Eastern Food). I think you learn more about Spanish food by reading that book, because its informal and youthful style (i.e. cramped with info, side bars, inserts, loads of smaller less artistic photos). Off course, if you want to learn about the Spanish regions and their specialities, you should pick up Culinaria Spain. However, Roden does teach us a bit about the strong early Muslim influence as well as the different regions. Roden's history lesson is largely confined to pre 20th century. Unfortunately, you do not get any understanding of how Spanish cooking has changed during the last 50 years. Another solid book that tries to do pretty much what Roden is trying to do is The Cuisines of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking - a much better choice (more focused description of regional differences, more recipes, regional origin of all recipes noted).
The book is too designed by the publisher for my liking; e.g. lots of professional photos (but why a brown tinting on all of them?), big white spaces (who came up with the silly idea of having 3-4 cm margins??), and very safe recipes. This would be a good gift to a more conservative person that likes food a bit toned down, but still nice. (In contrast, the first book mentioned above would be a good gift to a more passionate person who just likes to cook.) I am not trying to belittle Roden's book, but cooking is more fun with passion (e.g. Andres's Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen or his DVD. Check him out on youtube if you are not familiar with him.)
I am also disappointed by having only 180 recipes in a book of 600 pages. The book has a lot of intro text so the comparison isn't totally fair, but still pretty fair. There is just too much fluff in this book. Compare with the author's early book on Middle Eastern food having 800 recipes on 500 pages. Also many of the recipes are too basic, like chicken stock, aioli and mayonnaise. Those recipes should be put at the end and not given full page treatment. Alternatively, more detail could have been provided; e.g. how pestle and mortar makes the sauce different, how to make it without eggs. Things need to be taken to the next level.
I don't think this book is directed to people who love to cook. There are just too many short-cuts described (e.g. doing aioli with bought mayo) and the author giving approval to all these short cuts (probably on request of the publisher). Also, the recipes do not contain any tips of how to really get the best out of the ingredients. The recipes are very straightforward, all additional complexity removed. Some people might like this approach but somebody who loves to cook would like to know the details that lead to perfection and an enlarged skill set.
If you want more recipes per page I would suggest the books by Penelope Casas. Probably best to start with her first book The Foods and Wines of Spain, which will contain the classics. Her Delicioso! The Regional Cooking of Spain and La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain follow the same style. (I am not familiar with her subsequent books). Her recipes are a little bit more traditional in preparation, but the author is not Spanish and she is very careful in spicing the dishes. Compare with The New Spanish Table that is not afraid of spicing the dishes. I don't know who is closer to the "original" if there is an original.
Finally, I do not recommend 1080 Recipes unless you want a book written for Spanish housewives
Why only four stars? I cook seriously (as does Roden)but I may be a bit 'jaded', a bit more interested in 'knockout' recipe and flavor or texture ideas. This book is wonderfully traditional. Her prose is not as rigorously edited as it used to be and there are some repetitions that pall on the careful reader.
Roden has also become a culinary 'goddess' by dint of her unremitting hard work and her text has acquired a bit of baggage: she is modest enough to feel she needs to recognize all the people in Spain who have helped her along the way and through the years. Notable names are dropped but there are also magic moments when she recognizes, for example, the president of a local gastronomic society of men, a man of humble origins but of enormous self-study and acheivement and a man of noble hospitality. 'Visiting' good people who love good food is one of the pleasures served up by this book; a pleasure seldom found elsewhere.
Obviously, I had to add this book to my collection and I feel you won't be sorry to do the same. For those who are seeking something a bit less ambitious and a bit more path-breaking, may I suggest Jose Andres' works 'Made in Spain' or 'Tapas?' The dishes he offers make me want to get in the kitchen and cook something for dinner tonight!
The aesthetics are an important aspect of this book; while the text itself is probably about the same or slightly shorter than Roden's other books, the book as a whole was conceived as a coffee table book, with generous (and obviously Phaidon-influenced) food photography. Roden's friends who helped her with the book also get their own introductions in sidebars, along with ingredients and cultural forces that shaped Spanish food from medieval into modern times. (Roden, being Sephardic Jewish, places special emphasis on the Jewish contributions to the cuisine, and makes a special point to cover how Spain has come to appreciate centuries of contributions by Jews and Conversos.)
For a long time -- over twenty-five years now -- Penelope Casas' The Foods and Wines of Spain has been possibly the definitive book in English on Spanish food. It's still an excellent book, but in the years since Casas published her first book, Spanish food has rocketed to worldwide fame as the youngest of Europe's great national cuisines, joining French, Italian, and Greek food thanks to the efforts of both traditionalists and modernists. I don't know that I'd say Roden's book replaces Casas', but the simple fact of it being so far up to date as well as being artistically beautiful just edges out Casas as the book to buy if you're only buying one. (I own both, and I'd suggest you do too, along with 1080 Recipes, which was written in Spain for Spanish cooks, but received a very nice, slightly quirky treatment from Phaidon.) But even if you don't care about any of the above, Claudia Roden is one of the Anglophone food world's great treasures, and frankly a new book by her is really all the excuse you need.
I was thrilled to see that Roden recently tackled my favorite cuisine, The Foods of Spain. This massive tome of recipes and information is exactly what I would expect from Roden. The research and information is all-encompassing and the recipes thoroughly explore each region of Spain. So far, I have made a dozen recipes from its pages and they all have turned out beautifully and taste just like the Spanish food of my memory.
Cooking from Roden's recipes is the next best thing to traveling to Spain and eating the fabulous food.
This book is a must for any cookbook connoisseur, traveller, or Spanish enthusiast..all of which I am! The Foods of Spain is my new favorite cookbook, hands down...just narrowly beating out Roden's past books.
author of: SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
The great news is that you do not have to shell out a fortune at El Bulli to experience the wonders of Spanish food. Indeed the foods and dishes portrayed in this book are well worth the high price. I normally do not like paying a lot for books, and prefer Kindle books, but here I will make an exception.