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Spain and the World Table

The food section in most bookshops is growing larger and larger. On a recent visit to the biggest book shop in Pune I was delighted to see 5 sections allotted to the subject with several shelves devoted to international cooking as well. Plus a respectable assortment of renowned books on food and wine. This is quite a change from the ubiquitous regional cooking booklets sold in most shops till a year or two ago. A peremptory nod in the direction of "World Cooking" in the form of an old tome of Larousse Gastronomique and one Chinese cookbook by Kenneth Lo just about defines it.

While Chinese food still tops the list of international cook books available here, Italian and Thai tie for place at a close second and Mediterranean food comes in at a respectably placed third.

As Indians travel further it becomes clear that some cuisines find particular favour with us. Spain is a popular holiday destination after Thailand and I am sure it is because, at least in part, we are partial to the flavours of the country’s cuisine.

It is no surprise then to find a substantial stack of cook books on Spanish Cooking in our favourite bookshop here.

Worth looking at is a new book “Spain and The World Table”. As always with a Dorling Kindersley publication, it is well illustrated and designed. Although it is a sort of commemorative volume on the occasion of the Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Flavour International Conference and Festival, which starred Spain in 2006, it works just as well as an introduction to Spanish cuisine.

We have all heard of the visionary Spanish chefs both in America and the country of their birth. Several of them attended the festival and many of their favourite recipes have been adapted for this book. These form a nice introduction to the regions of Spain, each with its characteristic ingredients. So we have a Hot Garlic Soup from Manolo De la Osa the owner of Las Regas in Las Pedroneras, in the Castile-La Mancha region which is the garlic capital of the country,  as well as Pigs Trotters stuffed with veal and wild mushrooms from Nando Jubany a Catalan chef from Vic, Catalonia. One recipe I particularly liked was the Seafood Rice typical of Valencia contributed by Maria Muria Lloret who’s restaurant Ca’Sento in Valencia makes inspired use of the seafood the region is famous for. 

The book includes interesting short segments on typical Spanish Ingredients- Cheese, Salt cod, Saffron, Rice, Olives, and Chocolate and so on. Concise descriptions of the cuisine of different regions like Asturias, the Galician Coast, Murcia and Andalusia, give an insight into the history and traditions of each area, something noteworthy for anyone who plans to visit the country and explore it through its food.

The fabulous photographs are inspiration enough to try cooking up some of the dishes most of which are fairly simple.

Piperada_pomfret

I made the typical Basque Piperada as the ingredients were easily available. It turned out beautifully and tasted brilliant served as a sauce on filleted steamed pomfret dusted with freshly ground pepper. It is so much like the beginning of a curry...onions, garlic, tomatoes.I didnt bother to peel the bell peppers after roasting them and added chilli flakes for some bite. If you are serving this as an entrée you could prepare the sauce ahead of time your dinner will be totally stress free.

I cannot wait to try many of the other recipes. Since it is written by Martha Rose Shulman, the author of many award winning cookbooks, one is pretty sure of the outcome.

The layout of the book makes it easy to use and attractive to browse through. Spain and the World Table is a significant addition to cookbooks making international cuisine more accessible to the average cook.


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