Elisabeth Luard has written this Regional Celebration of the food of Spain and Portugal, and there is nobody better placed to do just that. She is considered one of the best writers about Spanish food in the English language and with Elisabeth’s background I am inclined to agree with those opinions.
Having been bought up in both Europe and South America, Elisabeth moved at age 21 to the Andalucian hills and learnt about real Spanish food from the locals. The cuisine of the Iberian Peninsula is enjoying immense popularity at the moment and this book will help to bring that trend to your table. If you can’t have a real Spaniard in the kitchen with you, this might be the next best thing.
The Food of Spain and Portugal is a delight. Photographs by the talented Jean Cazals are marvellous and shots of food are punctuated with landscapes to present a combined travelogue and cooking lesson. There are even a few Old Masters. You don’t have to be a budding chef to appreciate this book – a love of Spain and Portugal is enough.
Elisabeth writes with passion and intelligence: “The gentle braising tenderises the meat of a well-grown mountain lamb, allowing the flavours to melt into each other and form a rich sticky, little sauce.” It’s enough to turn a vegetarian’s head!
There is something for everyone, be they vegetarian, carnivore, practised cook or raw beginner. Roasted Red Peppers with Anchovies only has three ingredients and is easy yet vibrant of colour and taste. Cream Cake with Sour Cherries is sophisticated but wouldn’t be too taxing. My favourite of all, Spiced Chicken with Peppers: simple, delicious and a true taste of Aragon.
The recipes are enticing and broad-based covering the most rustic to the most refined, leaving the reader wanting to linger over ingredients and pictures, but anxious to turn another page to discover more. It isn’t a book to skim through nor is it a volume that you’ll read only once. You’ll dip into it and use its mouth-watering and authentic recipes but you’ll visit again to enjoy the countryside and the history.
The Food of Spain and Portugal
Author: Elisabeth Luard
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018