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The Cuisines of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking Hardcover – November 1, 2005

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Born and raised in Spain's Basque Country, Teresa Barrenechea (The Basque Table), has been very purposeful with her title, choosing the plural, cuisines, to speak of Spain in her most recent book, The Cuisines of Spain. There is no one Spanish food, plain and simple. And what the author wants to convey is a sense of place for the many delicious dishes she presents (there are over 250 recipes). It's a kind of culinary coaching, a catch up for the cooks already familiar with which dishes one can attribute to Northern Italy, say, or Sicily, or Alsatian France. Spain, and Spanish culinary traditions, remain something of a frontier. And that makes Teresa Barrenechea something of a pioneer. Exploring Regional Home Cooking: That's the sub-title of the book, and therein lies the magic.

The Cuisines of Spain is first and foremost a book to read. The author's first two chapters describe in great detail the history and geography of Spain's regions which she groups by shared climate and natural resources. She calls this "following bean stews rather than political boundaries." Woven into this tapestry are traces of the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks, Romans, Celts, Visigoths and Vandals (who left behind livestock farming practices), Moorish and Jewish culture, and, of course, the New World impacts of foods returning with Columbus--tomatoes, potatoes, corn, peppers. She gets granular--which pigs, grown where and eating what, contribute to the great hams of Spain.

She divides the book by the flow of a meal, and makes suggestions throughout which dishes would typically go together. This is if you were to choose to cook an entire Spanish meal, from tapas to dessert. You could also strive to include a single Spanish dish in your weekly meals, learning as you go, expanding a repertoire, because this is home cooking. This is about every day, not just special occasions.

The enterprising cook will find chapters devoted to "Tapas," "Cold Soups and Salads," "Vegetable Dishes and Other First Courses," "Breads," "Pies and Pastas," "Warm Soups and Legume Stews," "Rice Dishes," "Fish and Shellfish," "Poultry, Meats, and Game," "Desserts and Other Sweets," and "Beverages." There's a chapter of basic recipes as well as a list of sources for some of the more unusual ingredients.

This is a lush, beautifully illustrated and designed cookbook, as at home on a coffee table or nightstand as in the kitchen. Take the author's advice: Follow the bean stews into a new world of Old World home cooking. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

Few have done more to disseminate the delights of Spanish cuisine than Barrenechea. A Spanish native, former New York restaurateur and author of The Basque Table, Barrenchea mixes Spanish history with the 250 recipes in this formidable cookbook. The recipes are grouped by course, and the author suggests some main dishes can, "in small portions, be served as tapas." This should, in theory, make meal-planning fun, but the sheer volume of recipes may intimidate many: there are eight chapters of courses, not counting tapas or sauces, and although Barrenechea insists these recipes do not require "hard-to-find ingredients," Spanish staples like salt cod or blood sausage can prove difficult to locate. Similarly, the author claims "you don't need a lot of specialized equipment," right after she asserts "if you want to cook authentic Spanish dishes," you'll need earthenware casseroles in different sizes, a paella pan, a food mill and a mortar and pestle. Although the recipes are superior-clear, concise, and delicious- this cookbook seems intended more for education than entertainment. Those who are obsessed with Spanish cooking will consider it a treasure; anyone with slightly less interest may feel overwhelmed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1St Edition edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580085156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580085151
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.3 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Maria Rodriguez on April 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have tried many of the recipes in this book and I still use it as my regular cookbook. Dishes like Dorada a la sal, Samfaina, Tarta de Santiago, Trucha a la Navarra etc, etc, etc...have just that taste from home (I am spanish). It is really easy to follow and fun to read, because every recipe starts with a comment about it, a story of the dish. It also gives you some places where you can buy those "not so easy to find" ingredients. It is also very helpful that she recomends different kind of fish for a given dish, so if you can not find a particular fish you can substitute for another one.

A GREAT find.....
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Alejandro on December 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I love to cook and am delighted with The Cuisines of Spain. The book is a beautiful blend of most practical and easy to follow recipes with unusual and out of the ordinary dishes that make me curious and eager to experiment. In addition, the comprehensive and thorough information on Spanish culture combined with a host of lovely photos make this newest of my cook books a real treasure. It even makes for a great present.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mali Diago on January 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Cuisines of Spain is one, if not the most brilliant cookbook about Spanish food. It's not only beautifully edited with great photographs but the recipes are very straight forward and explained in full detail. The author captures the essence of each dish and does an amazing job explaining the recipe in a most simple manner. All the recipes are great, easy and fun to make!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Schweitzer on September 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let me start off by saying that I studied abroad in Spain on 2 occasions, my husband (who I met in Spain) is half-Spanish, and I have traveled to Spain a half dozen times. With that being said, I love Spanish food and I have tried it from several regions. I saw this cookbook in a local market and copied a recipe out of it. I cooked the recipe and it was was exactly like the food I had in Spain...I couldn't believe it. Immediately after eating, I ordered the book on Amazon. I've tried many more recipes from the book and they have all been amazing. The paella is fabulous and very easy. I love this book!!!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sara Reich on November 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am so happy to finally have found a Spanish cookbook that covers all my favorite dishes. The recipies are well written and many are very simple, and everything I've made so far has turned out great. Also, the photographs are lovely!
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
`The Cuisines of Spain, Exploring Regional Home Cooking' is by Teresa Barrenechea is, unlike the other prominent writers on Spanish cuisine, Penelope Casas and Coleman Andrews, a professional chef. This means here recipes tend to be just a bit more practical and interesting to eat, especially compared to Andrews, but it does not mean she will be better at putting together a really interesting book on all the regional cuisines of Spain.

Until one gets to the chapters on actual recipes, it seems as if Mme. Barrenechea has everything you need for a good survey book on a national cuisine. For starters, there is a very decent physical and political map of the Iberian Peninsula, including the Balearic Islands and an insert on the Canary Islands. She follows up on this promise by including a discussion of the culinary geography of these two important island groups in her text.

Chapter I starts out seeming like it will be giving us a history of Spanish Iberia, but turns into a survey of the culinary geography and economy of each of the main regions of Spain, which she identifies as:


La Ribera del Ebro

Asturias and Cantabria

Balearic Islands

Basque Country

The Canary Islands

The Castiles and Madrid





The sections here which are the most interesting are those which are not covered well by Andrews, Casas, and in Barrenechea's book on the Basque region. Unfortunately, in those regions on which I have read a fair amount, I find Barrenechea's book a bit lacking and downright inconsistent in places. In the introduction, Mme.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Anton on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a good book in traditional kitchen from Spain. This book is what I was looking for. The only thing I miss are more photos. The recipes are simple and easy to follow, but the best part is that the recipes I have tried actually taste like the ones I tasted back home.
If you are looking for the real cuisine of Spain, this is your book.
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