There has been an influx of new cookery books on to my shelves lately but this title is definitely something a little different to all the others. Despite my first love being Portuguese, I never really learned anything about the food of Portugal other than the dishes he didn't like. Caldo Verde, a Portuguese classic, was always made to sound like an impossible green sludge with a disturbing flavour; only to realise it is actually a wonderfully warming kale soup! Exactly the kind of thing I would absolutely gulp down by the bowlful! In hindsight, I should have known from the start we utterly wrong for each other.
Although I know very little about the author Elisabeth Luard, I do know the photography of the genius food-snapper Jean Cazals and having your recipes photographed by him can only ever be a really good move because he really brings food to life in his images. Elisabeth Luard is actually an award winning food writer and author of many other cookery titles, so I feel safe in the knowledge that this book will indeed make an authentic contribution to my shelves.
The book is divided in to two sections, one representing Spain and the other for Portugal and each section has multiple sub-sections representing the various regions of each country. Obviously as both countries are blessed with generous coastlines, the book has many (many) fish and seafood recipes that are pretty condusive to the Portuguese and Spanish way of eating; however there are some wonderful recipes in both sections. The very unsual 'Ilebre amb xocolata' or hare with almonds and chocolate from The Catalan region gets my vote and a Balearic favourite of 'Ensaimadas' - A wonderful 'snail-curled' yeast cake that I would buy several of and take home to family whenever in Majorca... A must for cake/donut lovers. Varieties normally included cinnamon, pumpkin and pastry creme and all are utterly delicious. Lamb tongues, Serrano ham croquettes and of course classics like churros and Tortilla all feature also.
Portugal, I know infinitely less about. However pleased to see that the first two recipes include one of my all time favourite Portuguese/Brazilian treats 'Bolinhos de bacalhau' Lovely saltcod fritters, perfect to snack on with a glass of something cold. And the infamous 'Caldo Verde' soup my ex hated is also featured and a rather interesting recipe from the Beira mountain region for tomato jam with vanilla and a spiced pumpkin jam from the Algarve (both of which, I shall be making very soon!)
So I'm glad to have been sent this book because like every DECENT cookery book, it should make a genuinely useful contribution to your shelves and not just be about the Chef or the pretty cover. This book ticks all the right boxes for the consummate foodie in my opinion and will make a fantastic new addition to my collection.
The Food of Spain and Portugal - By Elisabeth Luard
Available on Amazon