Journey with Frank Camorra through sun-drenched Andalusia: a landscape of ancient cities, white villages nestled into steep mountains, and plains planted with olive groves and vineyards. Take in colourful spring festivals and lively markets, then venture into the rugged high sierras and the stone-lined bodegas of the sherry triangle.
At the southern edge of Europe, this is a place where cultures and cuisines mingle. Seafood abounds in the rich waters off the Atlantic Coast, while in the oak-covered mountains, Iberico pigs graze on acorns to produce the finest jamon, and game is plentiful. Vegetables are harvested from ancient gardens irrigated by channels built by the Arabs, who also left a legacy of Moorish spices and sweet treats.
Returning to his family's home region, along the way Frank gathers authentic recipes from food and wine producers, chefs, cooks and housewives. From an olive picker's breakfast and cuttlefish in saffron sauce to the smoky skewers known as pinchitos morunos and drunken monks' cake, MoVida Solera is a celebration of Andalusian food and culture.
About the Authors
Frank Camorra is chef and owner of the acclaimed MoVida restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney. Born in Barcelona, he grew up in Australia before a trip to his birthplace in 2000 inspired him to share his love of Spanish food. And so his stable of critically acclaimed and much-loved tapas bars and restaurants was born. Hidden down a gritty and graffiti-ed Melbourne laneway, MoVida was an instant hit, leading to MoVida Next Door and MoVida Aqui. Then came MoVida Sydney, along with venues at Melbourne and Sydney airports. Frank has co-authored four previous books, MoVida, MoVida Rustica, MoVida Cocina and MoVida's Guide to Barcelona.
Richard Cornish is an award-winning food writer whose love of the land led him to explore the issues around food: where it comes from, how it gets to us, and why some foods taste better than others. He is a senior features writer for the Fairfax Good Food and Epicure liftouts, and is the writer and creator of its popular 'Brain Food' column. He has co-written four books on Spanish food with MoVida chef Frank Camorra, and worked in Mexico researching and photographing a book on Mexican food culture. Richard appeared on the Australian version of Iron Chef, was co-creative director of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and continues to consult to the organisation. A vocal commentator on food, food politics and sustainability, he lives in Melbourne with his partner, fashion designer Tiffany Treloar, daughters Ginger and Sunday, and a rambling vegetable garden.
The Andalusian sun seemed to be forcing its way through the cracks under the door of the old bodega. Great shafts of sunlight were punching through the gloom and bouncing off the pale sandy floor stacked with black sherry barrels, flooding the cathedral-like space with a soft golden glow. The owner of the sherry bodega, an 80-year-old widow, explained to me that sherry was first poured into barrels here 180 years ago. Every year since then a little sherry has been racked into the barrels below and some new sherry poured in the barrels on top. Almost two centuries on, that original sherry, although greatly diluted, still has an influence on the sherry being bottled each year. My hostess quietly explained that the solera system of maturing sherry could serve as an allegory for the food of this part of southern Spain: 'What we eat today is a blend of all the different cultures that over the years have lived in this part of the world long before we drew our first breath.'
Home to the original Iberian tribes and the early civilisations of the Tartessos, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Jews, Andalusia has been invaded by Napoleon's army and ravaged by the Spanish Civil War. The departure point of Christopher Columbus's voyages to the Americas, it was also where the riches of the New World arrived in Europe. Its landscapes comprise mountain ranges and fertile valleys, historic and ancient cities, swathes of modern coastal development and isolated rural communities; it is swaddled by the warm waters of the Mediterranean and buffeted by the cold, rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
This book is a collection of traditional Andalusian recipes, and they reflect all of this. Like the sherry solera, the food of Andalusia builds on the past and mixes in new influences. There are the ancient indigenous ingredients, such as seafood, pork, beef, goat, herbs, honey and vegetables. To these are added the foods of the conquerors and visitors: the olives and grapes of the Romans; the saffron, spice, rice and citrus of the Moors; and the tomatoes, potatoes, chillies and peppers from the New World. Uncovering the origins of Andalusian food can feel like an archaeological dig, with millennia of layers in each dish.
The word solera shares the same Latin root as suelo, the Spanish word for 'earth' or 'ground'. The word has many other meanings: the foundation of a wall or building, the hearth of an oven, the bottom grindstone in a mill, the base of a channel, the 'mother' wine used in sherry making. It also means 'the traditional customs and uses of things'. A fitting title, then, for this celebration of the food, wine, culture and people of Andalusia.
Although I was born in Barcelona, I am Andalusian. Both sides of my family come from Córdoba and nearby towns. I was brought up on oranges, rice, cod, tomatoes, prawns, peppers, olive oil and jamón, the culinary leitmotifs that pervade Andalusia. We moved to Australia when I was four, but Mum continued to feed our family on dishes made from these foods. As often as I can I return to visit my home country.
Despite having lived and worked in Córdoba as a young chef, and travelled through Andalusia several times since, there were parts of the region that have remained a mystery to me. For this book I covered almost 10,000 kilometres through Andalusia's eight provinces, namely Seville, Huelva, Cádiz, Málaga, Córdoba, Jaén, Granada and Almería, accompanied by co-writer Richard Cornish and photographer and trained chef Alan Benson. Also joining us was Catalan food journalist Cesc Castro. As a Catalan, Cesc provided not only the objectivity that someone from down south may not bring to the project, but also has a sympathetic understanding of the importance of food and wine to all Spanish culture.
What we found on our journey was that although in some places local culinary traditions had given way to the mainstream national Spanish cuisine, there was still an incredibly robust pride in regional dishes. Before I started this project I had no idea that people in the mountains of Jaén made their own pasta. I was only vaguely aware of the Malagueño practice of preserving pork in lard (using a method similar to French confit), or that some of the best cheese in the country comes from the lush meadows of Cádiz's Sierra de Grazalema.
Our research was painstakingly done in the bars, restaurants, markets, fairs, monasteries, museums and home kitchens of Andalusia. The result is an exploration of the gastronomic history and legacy of the region, as told through the stories of the scores of cooks, chefs, housewives, fisherman, butchers, peasants and nuns of Andalusia we met, talked, ate and drank with, and who so generously shared their unparalleled hospitality and delicious recipes with us. The food in this book is presented with the deepest respect and gratitude to all the people who have contributed. The recipes were given in good faith that they would be presented in context, and in the hope that they will be cooked and enjoyed in true Andalusian style, perhaps with a glass of sherry, wine or beer, but always with family and friends. They are recipes that demand a good appetite and a convivial sense of enjoyment.
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 24th September 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 27.7 x 22.2 x 3.5
Weight (kg): 1.69
Edition Number: 1