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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spanish classic, by fermed, May 18, 2000
This review is from: The Foods and Wines of Spain (Hardcover)
In 1982 Penelope Casas published the finest book of Spanish cookery ever. It is now in its 11th printing. Although she has written other books on the cuisines of Spain, "The Foods and Wines of Spain" has biblical standing among cooks. For her culinary expertise she has been honored by the government of Spain, but more importantly, she had built a following of gastronomes of all stripes who swear by her recipes. Their authenticity is never in question: she is an indefatigable researcher who goes back to the kitchen and discusses things with the local artists and then includes those recipes and techniques in her book. If a few of the dishes don't taste exactly as they did in Spain it is because not all the ingredients are available here. Still, Ms. Casas gives advice about reasonable substitutes, and now that serrano ham and some chorizos are allowed to be imported, such substitutions can be kept to a minimum.
The book contains not one but two recipes for garlic soup, simple to make by even beginning cooks, and highly addictive. The "arroz a banda" described is one of the more subtle and satisfying of the rice dishes; and of course there is the paella (about which Ms. Casas has written a separate book). In this volume its recipe appears a bit intimidating, but it is essentially easy to prepare if one does not think too much about it beforehand.
For those cooks who need exact formulas and pharmacy-like precision in their ingredients, this book will please them. For those who are relativists with active imaginations, the book will also satisfy by pointing them in the right direction: pork chops with prunes, duck with olives in sherry sauce, baked porgy and peppers with brandy, chicken with figs. Yum.
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