would think that an extensive, exhaustive, glorious
encyclopedia of Spanish home cooking would have started
with a single Nacho. But Nacho Jimenez Uroz, a "muse"
(in the words of author Miriam Kelen) from Barcelona
who befriended Minnesotan Kelen over the Internet
is, in fact, the first piece of the tortilla when
it comes to this terrific tome.
a modest sort, whose writing, gorgeous photography
and book publishing skills (the beautiful hardcover
seems to be self-published) best 99 percent of the
crowd who have been doing this for big bucks for years,
writes that when she was new to the Internet, she,
on a whim, put her name on a list of people who wanted
to exchange letters in Spanish over the Internet.
She ended up "making some amazing and enduring
friendships. It was on line, during a discussion of
recipes, that Nacho from Barcelona suggested we get
together and write a cookbook."
was the start of an adventure of enormous proportions.
Kelen made several long trips to Spain, first meeting
with a group of cooks Uroz lined up and then branching
out in ever impressive ways from there.
goal was always to "introduce people to real
Spanish home cooking, the kinds of traditional foods
that moms fix with love, that grandmothers know best,
that sisters-in-law are famous for, that men concoct
when they have the time."
succeeded on every level. These are simple, beautiful
recipes that sing with authenticity (most of the cooks'
photographs appear along with their recipe and a lovely
photograph of the finished dish; grabbing scenic photos
also are part of the mix). Even if you have never
been to Spain or tasted the country's cuisine, just
reading the recipes will probably inspire you to try
them at home.
are in for treats of exceptional ease. Tapa de Otono
is baguette slices topped with cheese such as Manchego
or queso blanco, apple or pumpkin butter and whole
walnuts. Cumin-Scented Spinach with Garbanzos is as
flavorful as it sounds. Valencia Orange Chicken, which
utilizes 2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice cooked
with potatoes and garlic-accented chicken, will undoubtedly
become a family favorite. Fried Milk, which is sweet
and crispy and made with bread crumbs, cinnamon and
lemon, is beyond tempting. Scores of other recipes
are equally impressive.