We first knew Claudia Roden through The Book of Jewish Food, which has a place, without any doubts, in our Top Ten of Food Books. So when The Food of Spain was published in 2011 we were quick to order it on Amazon! Once again, as she did with The Food Of Italy, Roden has the ability to delve into the subject giving a quite in-depth view of the local cuisine making it easy and clear to understand.
The strong point of Claudia Roden’s books is always the historical research. In The Food of Spain the 120 pages or so of historical and geographical introduction are worth the whole book without any doubt. At last you’ll read sensible words about the complexities of Spanish food – tapas are not all the same, not everywhere, regional differences are the rule, the past history of Spain helps understand a few of them.
If only she explained better the history of the ‘tapa’… but alas, it is a not very clear and a little boring story, so she can just get away with the usual “piece of ham on top of the wine glass”.
But it’s not only history, there’s also some 470 pages of recipes! Organized by course, recipes are clearly identified geographically and with an introduction which helps understand the dish. You can find classics such as tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), gazpacho and sangria, but also local specialties such as Ajoblanco (Cold almond soup) from Andalusia, Zarangollo (Zucchini with onions and oregano) from Murcia or Tarta de Santiago (Almond cake) from Galicia.
You can read Claudia Roden’s own exclusive article on the Guardian on the occasion of the release of this book: Claudia Roden exclusive on the Food of Spain, and some of the recipes too – Claudia Roden’s Spanish recipes.
You can buy Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain on Amazon (and while there have a look at her other works!)