Let's eat!

Delicioso: a history of food in Spain

Sevilla, María José. Reaktion Books, 2019
343p bibl index, 9781789141375 $39.00, 9781789141894

Sevilla’s history of Spain and surrounding islands through edibles incorporates cooking into an exacting cultural overview. From the Celtic origins of Iberia, initial chapters examine early settlement through 1492, menu by menu. With a burst of specifics, the history of the Columbian exchange accompanies growth of the salt cod industry and worldwide pepper and saffron trades. By examining Jewish, Moorish, and Islamic immigrants and their tastes, the text accounts for a complex diet rich in flavors and aromas, from pulses, moles, lenten eggs and beans, and gazpacho to lamb and anchovy grills, tartas, and manchego cheese. Meticulous footnotes and bibliography precede primary and secondary indexing that points the way to the stews and bitter oranges of Andaluz, Castilian black pudding and roast meats, the mozdrabe cuisine of Cordoba, and periods of starvation during World War II and the Spanish Civil War. Memorable passages treating individual foods—potatoes, sugar, tomatoes, chocolate, rice—epitomize the Spanish skill at incorporating newcomers to the marketplace in piquant fritters, omelets, marzipan, and restaurant tapas. Spanish viniculture receives little commentary here, compared to the enthusiastic celebration of seafood, grains, vegetables, and fruit. A prize for the culinary section of public, high school, or college libraries.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.
Reviewer: M. E. Snodgrass, formerly, Lenoir-Rhyne University
Subject: Science & Technology
Choice Issue: Jul 2020