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Dec 09 2019

Pick up a Foolproof Christmas Present: A Book on Spanish Cuisine

Everyone loves a good book, and if it’s a book about food, even better. And if it’s a book about Spanish food, you can expect your friend or loved one to tear off the wrapping paper and run for the kitchen.

Books about Spanish cuisine: Andalusia, by José Pizarro 

The holidays are around the corner, and if you’re racking your brain trying to come up with a unique gift that your friends and family are sure to love, we’ve got a great idea (or five) for you.

Everyone loves a good book, and if it’s a book about food, even better. And if it’s a book about Spanish food, you can expect your friend or loved one to tear off the wrapping paper and run for the kitchen.

But with so many books to choose from, which are the best ones for this holiday season?

Worry not, because we’ve rounded up the five absolute best Spanish cookbooks and books on Spanish cuisine for this holiday season.

Travel to southern Spain

Our first choice comes from Spanish-born, UK-based chef José Pizarro. His latest book, Andalusia: Recipes from Seville and Beyond, takes readers on a magical trip to southern Spain to sample its most emblematic dishes.

From the shrimp baked in salt with mango to the pork loin with pear and hazelnuts, the recipes are easy to make and reflect the region’s unique history and flavors. The chapters are cover meat, fish, vegetables and desserts and will allow any home chef to create simple, authentic dishes that taste exactly like Andalusia.

Celebrate Catalan cooking

Books about Spanish cuisine: Delicioso, by María José Sevilla
If you think the giftee would prefer to travel north rather than south, then you’ll want to give him or her A Taste of Barcelona: The History of Catalan Cooking and Eating, by H. Rosi Song and Anna Riera.

The book offers an overview of urban and culinary development in Barcelona, from the Middle Ages until today. The city has been a bustling, cosmopolitan hub since the 1700s and it has had a vibrant culinary tradition due to its strategic geographic location as a port city. Moreover, cooking has always played an important role in maintaining Catalonia’s identity.

In recent years, Barcelona has become synonymous with cutting-edge gastronomy and is a go-to destination for both foodies and chefs from every corner of the globe. Today it’s home to everything from world-famous markets to Michelin-star restaurants. But how did this happen?

The best way to find out? Buy the book!

Learn about Spain’s unique culinary history

If you’re shopping for a history buff, you can’t really go wrong with Delicioso: A History of Food in Spain, by María José Sevilla. This unique book looks at the history of food in Spain, from antiquity to today. Readers will learn about the events and situations that shaped the development of Spanish cuisine and how the relationship with food has evolved in Spain over time.

Greek, Roman, Jewish, Moorish and Middle Eastern influences all had an impact on Spain’s culinary traditions, as has the country’s topography, geology and climate. Learn about how regional cuisines evolved, how new products arrived from France, the Americas and Italy, and how everything has been molded by the country’s unique and complex history.

Sevilla has published two other books, Mediterranean Flavors and Life and Food in the Basque Country. She has worked at Foods & Wines from Spain in the UK for 25 years and was the director of the department from 2009 to 2017.

Head for the islands

Books about Spanish cuisine: Vegetables Unleashed, by Chef José Andrés.
If your friend or relative has more of an island vibe, we have the perfect book for him or her, too. Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands, by Emma Warren, takes readers on a trip off the Peninsula to see Balearic Islands like Ibiza, Formentera, Menorca and Majorca.

Visit the hills, beaches, homes, coasts, interior and villages of these beautiful Mediterranean Islands, where the food has been clearly influenced by Valencia and Catalonia, both on the coast, as well as southern France, Sicily and even Sardinia.

Warren’s book includes stunning photos and 100 easy-to-make recipes that reflect the islands’ singular traditions, organized by landscape, such as mountains, coasts and villages. Readers will be able to discover many a culinary gem from these Mediterranean Islands.

Up your vegetable game

If you need a book that pushes boundaries, you’ll want to get your hands on Vegetables Unleashed, by José Andrés. His latest project opens up a whole new world when it comes to produce, and is perfect for the vegetarian in your life or for anyone looking to take their vegetable-making game to the next level.

From his tomato beefsteak sandwich to the squash blossom cheesadilla to carrot curry, here Andrés strives to encourage readers to find a different way of looking at veggies, which are all too often served as a side dish.

A book from the likes of Andrés would, unsurprisingly, include a few creative ideas, like his recipe for compost potatoes, cooked with vegetable scraps from your compost bin and coffee grounds.

He also shares his ideas on how to cook to reduce food waste and aims to highlight the simplicity behind preparing veggies. All you need is a little water and a few spices, or you can simmer, grill and roast your way to a delicious, healthy meal.

This book celebrates the versatility of vegetables and will help you give them pride of place on the dinner table.

A win-win situation

The beauty of gifting a book about the history of Spanish cooking is that the recipient is bound to learn a thing or two.

And the beauty of gifting a Spanish cookbook is obviously the fact that you can later show up at their house for a delicious meal prepared using the recipes in that book.

The conclusion: giving one of the books we’ve recommended here today to a friend or loved one for the holidays is a win-win situation.


Text: Samara Kamenecka/@ICEX.


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