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The Food of Spain Hardcover – June 7, 2011

41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“After a series of fascinating essays on the historical forces that led to the creation of various Spanish cuisines (among others: Celts and Jews, Frenchmen, monks, peasants and royals), Roden slips into the kitchen to deliver the goods.” (Sam Sifton, New York Times Book Review)

From the Back Cover

In The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden, the James Beard award-winning author of the classics A Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food, and one of our foremost authorities on Mediterranean, North African, and Italian cooking, brings her incomparable authenticity, vision, and immense knowledge to bear in this cookbook on the cuisines of Spain.

New York Times bestselling cookbook author Claudia Roden believes that through food a cook can reconstruct an entire world. And in her classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food–eight hundred recipes long, a treasure trove of folk tales, proverbs, stories, poetry, and local history–that's just what she did. Historian and critic Simon Schama has said of her that "Claudia Roden is no more a simple cookbook writer than Marcel Proust was a biscuit baker." The Book of Jewish Food, another classic, is equally magnificent in its span, a cookbook that is also a history of Jewish life and settlement, told through the story of what Jews ate, and where, and why, and how they made it.

Now, in The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden applies that same remarkable insight, scope, and authority to a cuisine marked by its regionalism and suffused with an unusually particular culinary history. In hundreds of exquisite recipes, Roden explores both the little known and the classic dishes of Spain–from Andalusia to Asturias, from Catalonia to Galicia. And whether she's writing about smoky, nutty Catalan Romesco sauce, Cordero a la Miel–sweet and hot tender lamb stew with honey–or the iconic, emblematic national dish of Spain, saffron-perfumed Paella Valenciana, her clear, elegant, humorous, and passionate voice is a reader's delight, a guide not only to delicious food but to the peoples and cultures that produced it.

Both comprehensive and timeless, The Food of Spain is one of the most important books on this tremendous cuisine to appear in the last fifty years. A classic in the making, it is an essential work not only for fans of Spanish and Mediterranean food but for every serious cook as well as discerning armchair travelers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061969621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061969621
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 2.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Claudia Roden was born in Cairo, educated in Paris and London, where she has lived for many years. Widely admired as both a great cook and a fine writer, she has written classic works on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookery and, most recently, her award-winning The Book of Jewish Food.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The hyperbole in the product description calls this book one of the most important books on Spanish cooking during the last 50 years. How does the book measure up? I own a number of Spanish cooking books, so in addition to comments on Roden's book, please also find my recommendations.

This is a decent book about traditional Spanish food, but it lacks the passion so apparent in The New Spanish Table (or for that matter the author's own The New Book of Middle Eastern Food). I think you learn more about Spanish food by reading that book, because its informal and youthful style (i.e. cramped with info, side bars, inserts, loads of smaller less artistic photos). Off course, if you want to learn about the Spanish regions and their specialities, you should pick up Culinaria Spain. However, Roden does teach us a bit about the strong early Muslim influence as well as the different regions. Roden's history lesson is largely confined to pre 20th century. Unfortunately, you do not get any understanding of how Spanish cooking has changed during the last 50 years. Another solid book that tries to do pretty much what Roden is trying to do is The Cuisines of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking - a much better choice (more focused description of regional differences, more recipes, regional origin of all recipes noted).

The book is too designed by the publisher for my liking; e.g.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By James Ellsworth on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Claudia Roden's breakthrough book, 'A Book of Middle Eastern Food' was not only a landmark work on one of my favorite cuisines, it was also a wonderful reminiscence of Roden's family history as Sephardic Jews who settled in Egypt. For Sephardic, read 'Spanish' and her credibility as a writer on this Mediterranean cuisine becomes clear. The first 120 plus pages contain a region-by-region overview of Spain's multi-ethnic food culture, ranging from signature agricultural products to 'bred in the bone' dishes. I very much agree with previous reviewers that the recipes she has selected accord well with what I have eaten and enjoyed during my travels in Spain. I also feel that this is the best overall book for a Spanish family (speaking English fluently) to select for their own cookbook. The great dishes, the expected dishes are here--from a homemade range of stocks through soups...well, to nuts! Famed convent-based recipes for egg and almond pastry 'bites' are here. We all have had them and we all have wished we 'knew how' to recreate them at home. Now we can! We can also share a thumbnail sketch of each region's history, their hopes for independence or autonomy or their roles in creating today's vibrant, modern Spain.

Why only four stars? I cook seriously (as does Roden)but I may be a bit 'jaded', a bit more interested in 'knockout' recipe and flavor or texture ideas. This book is wonderfully traditional. Her prose is not as rigorously edited as it used to be and there are some repetitions that pall on the careful reader.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brian Connors VINE VOICE on July 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is basically everything that makes a Claudia Roden book -- personal stories, history, and much more -- combined with some truly beautiful Phaidonesque food photography. It's a doorstop, no question, but it's worth trying to schlep it around just to be able to browse through it. The recipes are all marked by area of origin, and are chosen to reflect each area's specialties, such as Valencia's rice, seafood from Cantabria, the Basque country, and the Balearic Islands, Asturias' apples, and Madrid's signature boiled dinner, the cocido madrileño.

The aesthetics are an important aspect of this book; while the text itself is probably about the same or slightly shorter than Roden's other books, the book as a whole was conceived as a coffee table book, with generous (and obviously Phaidon-influenced) food photography. Roden's friends who helped her with the book also get their own introductions in sidebars, along with ingredients and cultural forces that shaped Spanish food from medieval into modern times. (Roden, being Sephardic Jewish, places special emphasis on the Jewish contributions to the cuisine, and makes a special point to cover how Spain has come to appreciate centuries of contributions by Jews and Conversos.)

For a long time -- over twenty-five years now -- Penelope Casas' The Foods and Wines of Spain has been possibly the definitive book in English on Spanish food. It's still an excellent book, but in the years since Casas published her first book, Spanish food has rocketed to worldwide fame as the youngest of Europe's great national cuisines, joining French, Italian, and Greek food thanks to the efforts of both traditionalists and modernists.
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