Spanish cuisine may be experiencing a renewed popularity, spurred on by fashionable tapas restaurants and the culinary theatrics of modernist chefs like Ferran Adrià. But there’s a lot more to the traditions of food in Spain than just these highlights. The new title Spain by Jeff Koehler offers an insightful and balanced overview of Spanish cuisine; covering the regional differences that mark areas such as the Basque region, as well as the southern cuisines of Andalucia and the island of Majorca.
Koehler notes that Spanish cuisine is unlike any other food in the world in part because of its emphasis on ingredients. The deftness and accuracy with which two ingredients are paired is given the highest priority.
“The country kitchen begins firmly with las materias primas, the fresh, high-quality ingredients cooks call ‘the raw materials,” writes Koehler. “These are often simply prepared and presented, with usually just a few other components to draw out flavor.”
Spain features traditional and cogent presentations of classic Spanish dishes including regional varieties of national favorites. For example, there is gazpacho soup as it is served both in the seaside city of Málaga and farther north in the Andalusian regions of the country.
As Koehler notes, the minimalist approach of traditional Spanish fare does not cheapen its artistry.
“It’s a largely straightforward cuisine, rarely laborious or complex (which isn’t to say unsophisticated or lacking imagination).” Koehler writes. “This artful simplicity is exactly what makes these recipes so accessible to the home chef. Dishes like this Potato and Onion Recipe, this Country Rubbed Bread with Tomato Recipe, and this Chicken with Shallots and Orange Recipe reflect the accessibility, beauty, and irresistible quality of Spanish cuisine.