La Cocina de Mamá: The Great Home Cooking of Spain
by Penelope Casas
Broadway Books, 320 pp., $29.95Penelope Casas is the last word when it comes to English-language Spanish food writers. She's spent the past 35 years leading select culinary tours of the country and is an ambassador for Spain's incredible food products. In Cocina, she compiles an impressive collection of traditional home-style (and often previously unknown) recipes that have been developed by the mothers and grandmothers of Spain, and passed down for generations. The recipes are gleaned from a vast array of sources: obscure out-of-the-way paradors and cafes, monasteries and Michelin three-star restaurants, and, of course, home kitchens. Casas' intimate knowledge of Spain's cooking yields recipe head-notes and sidebars that perfectly illustrate every aspect of the dish and its components: from the look and taste to the historical background to those tips developed through decades of preparation. The recipes reflect every nuance of all of the varied culinary regions of Spain, and show the influences of Greece, Rome, the Jews and Moors, and the food products brought from the New World that together shaped a cuisine so well known for coaxing amazing and complex flavor from the freshest of simple ingredients. With Cocina, you'll open up a world of delicious flavors produced by down-to-earth recipes that are often very easy to prepare. Casas reveals the culinary mastery and mystery of Spain's mamás and yayas in a way that will make you want to cook this book from cover to cover.