A cookbook laced with personal narrative and charm
This is a full-colour illustrated cookbook but there isn’t a single photograph. This is The Flavours of Andalucía by Elisabeth Luard and she is a European food expert and an artist. Her work is displayed here in every element of this beautiful book.
Ms Luard has long been one of my favourite food writers. She is a poet of the culinary world. She paints pictures with both brush and words. This volume considers the colourful dishes of a rather romantic corner of Spain which was once part of the Moorish world, and where Elisabeth lived for several years. This book was winner of the 1992 Glenfiddich Award for Food Book of the Year.
Granada can still boast Moorish architecture and the Arabic culinary heritage remains. The food here reflects necessary frugality tempered with marvellous flavours, and a good deal of nose-to-tail eating; in fact recipes that are perfect for these often difficult modern times. Orange Salad combines juicy citrus fruit with tuna, anchovies and vegetables. Light and delicious and fit to grace any summer dinner party table.
Elisabeth’s neighbours would have fattened and killed their own bunnies
Rabbit was once popular in the UK but somehow escaped from our pots with the advent of myxomatosis and the penning of Watership Down. It’s a succulent meat when cooked well. Here in the Granada chapter we have Rabbit with Garlic and it’s a classic combination. Elisabeth’s neighbours would have fattened and killed their own bunnies, but it’s likely that your furry ingredient can be had from the local butcher. Ham and Chicken Meatballs are economic, tasty and bound to become a family favourite. It sounds like a humble dish but it has saffron, garlic and herbs to create a moist and flavourful pile of meatballs which would be traditionally eaten with local bread for mopping the concentrated sauce.
Vermicelli with Shellfish offers a taste of luxury. Soaked salt cod can replace the prawns in this recipe, although that would give a more robust-tasting dish perhaps more suited for cooler weather and family meals. I am sure that spaghetti or fettuccini could replace the thin vermicelli, although cooking times would vary. This recipe comes from Almeria.
The Flavours of Andalucía is a cookbook laced with personal narrative and charm. Elisabeth Luard is a literary writer’s writer who has just happened to turn her talents to cookbooks. It’s a book that will spend time in the kitchen but it’s also lyrical bedtime reading for anyone who loves food and travel. One will dream of scented orange groves and the kindness of neighbours.
The Flavours of Andalucía
Author: Elisabeth Luard
Published by: Grub Street Publishing
Cookbook review review by Chrissie Walker © 2018