Wednesday, June 13, 2018

María Paz Moreno's 'Madrid: A Culinary History' (2018)

María Paz Moreno, Madrid: A Culinary History (Big City Food Biography Series). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

"Matrice, Mayrit, Magerit, Madrid. The city's many names over the centuries bear witness to its long history and rich cultural heritage. Madrid has seen a fascinating succession of peoples come and go, from prehistoric inhabitants to Iberians, Celts, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Christians." (page 7).

"'[M]uch of what we think of today as being typically Spanish were, in fact, the staples of the Roman diet. Bread, cheese, olives, and olive oil, wine, and roasted meat . . . were the standard fare of the Roman soldiers in Hispania.'" (page 13).

Jewish and Islamic cuisine has survived, also, despite the expulsions from 1492 onward. "[T]he use of mint and spices such as saffron - an essential ingredient to paella, the iconic Spanish dish -- cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and caraway is common in many Spanish recipes and reflects a distinctly Arab touch." (page 22).

Moreno's progression through Madrid's food history is fascinating and hunger-inducing. She discusses cookbooks written over the centuries, tabernas, fondas, tapas, the impact of war, mercados, recipes and various eateries and marketplaces that are still operating after one or two hundred years - astonishing. 

The Big City Food Biography Series looks to be rewarding in the spirit of Anthony Bourdain. There's already a baker's dozen of these either already available or soon to be published, ranging from food biographies of New Orleans, San Francisco, New York City and Paris to upcoming tomes on Tapei and Seattle. 

P.S. "María Paz Moreno es poeta, ensayista y crítica literaria." See her website here.

Today's Rune: Strength. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've got some friends who regularly go to Spain and love it