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A thoroughly tasteful Spanish experience.

There's more to Spain than paella and tortillas, says Heidi Heilman. Contrary to what most people think there's more to Spanish cooking than tortillas and paella. Anyway tortillas are Mexican, and there is no such thing as a standard version of a paella, it can be made in loads of different ways.

Pepita Aris has spent years travelling all over Spain. She has written several books about Spanish cooking. In her new book The Spanish Kitchen she has been chasing the major Spanish food themes and classic dishes back to their most authentic source.

The book contains fascinating stories about the different regions. For instance, she tells about the region of Extremadura where "Wild food is constantly on the menu. Frogs were abundant in November, their legs eaten crumbed and fried. Tench, barbel, trout and pike from the streams are eaten as mojil de pez, with wild mint and green garlic, or cold and vinegared as escarapuche. And in the summer they eat lizards in Plasencia - caught with a loop of string and the help of a terrier."

Not only does the book provide you with a bundle of mouth watering recipes, you can also sit down and have a good read to find out some of the local history behind the recipes. With every recipe you're told what the original ingredients are, and what the best substitute would be, just in case you can't get hold of a guindilla chilli or pimientos de piquillo.

Although the book is about Spanish living as much as it is about Spanish cooking, and even though you might not be able to get hold of the original ingredients, I'm sure that the result will turn out as authentic as you can expect in our part of the world.

The Spanish Kitchen . By Pepita Aris (pounds 9.99).
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 31, 1998
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