Rick Stein’s Spain

Title: Rick Stein’s Spain

Author: Rick Stein

Publisher: Random House

What’s it all about:

After reading the beautifully designed and illustrated cookbook you will be excused if you book a ticket to Spain and start packing.

Stein has selected more than 120 recipes that capture the authentic taste of contemporary Spain.

Stein says he loves Spanish food.

“I’ve been going there since I was a young boy – but until quite recently I don’t think people really took the food seriously,” he says.

“Thanks to a handful of really dedicated Spanish chefs and a growing enthusiasm for its rugged flavours, that has all begun to change.

“To me the underlying point of journeying to Spain would be to discover the ‘duende’ in the cooking.

“By that I mean a sense of soul, of authenticity. The word is normally used in flamenco but I think it could be equally applied to the art of Spanish cooking because to my mind, in really good food, there is a communication between the cook and diner that amounts to art.’

Flick through the book and you will soon see that Spain is a country that tantalises every sense with it’s colourful sights, evocative music, vibrant traditions and bold cookery.

With more than 100 location and recipe photographs, this is an essential book for food-lovers as well as a stunning culinary guide to a diverse country.

Stein says Spanish cooking has a rich history, with flavours reflecting the broad range of cultural influences that resulted in the subtle changes in taste between regions.

Stein samples his way through the specialties and hidden treats of each region, taking in the changing landscape from the mountainous northern regions through the Spanish plains to Mediterranean beaches.

His journey starts in Galicia where he is enthralled by the abundance of the seafood – the star of the show being the percebes – goose-necked barnacles ; in Asturias he cooks the famous regional dish Fabada Asturiana ; then in the Basque region, Stein enjoys the local speciality, Bacalao a la Vizcaino.

In Cantabria he discovers the  best chorizo in Spain and in Navarra Stein goes trout fishing. In Mediterranean-influenced Catalonia Stein is happiest  in a bar on the harbour with a clay pot of Gambas al Ajillo.

Then on to savour Paella in Valencia; stuffed, spicy aubergines in Castille-La Mancha; and truffles and quail in Extremadura. In Andalucia the highlight has to be the legendary tapas bars of Seville with the sweet and delicious Iberico ham – the best in the world.

Olay – it’s a great read and even if you can’t get to Spain work your way through the cookbook and pretend.

© Sue Wallace

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