Tapas Revolution

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Tapas Revolution – 120 Simple Classic Spanish Recipes
By Omar Allibhoy
Ebury Press – £20.00

”What better pleasure is there in this world than to cook for others and then eat with them? Food, like life, is best shared with friends and loved ones, and tapas are the embodiment of that.”

Tapas are indeed, the embodiment of shared (f)ea(s)ting, and a whole lot more besides. Ever since having been to Barcelona, I have become a huge fan of tapas; having wholeheartedly succumbed to their veritable variety in both taste and size. Reason being, partaking in tapas is akin to eating several different meals all at once: ”Forget about the idea of courses that follow on from each other – just put together any combination of dishes that you like. This is particularly good when it comes to cooking for a group of friends[…].”

To be sure, choice is a never ending saga, whereby gastronomic conclusion is forever out of reach. Hence, my initial attraction in wanting to review Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy, who (for whatever reason), Gordon Ramsay has referred to as ”the Antonio Banderas of cooking.”

An interesting combination if ever there was one.

That said, it’s only when one reads the small print – as in the second part of the books title: 120 Simple Classic Spanish Recipes – that one realises the book is not entirely anchored within the parameters of the tapa.

There are in fact, a menagerie of really mouth watering recipes, from every region of Spain, that, if nothing else, promotes Spanish cuisine (rather than just Catalan) beyond the quintessential norm of authenticity and expectation. As Allibhoy himself writes in the book’s Introduction: ”I would argue that there is no such thing as ‘authentic’ Spanish cooking. Spanish food is constantly evolving and every region, restaurant, chef and home cook has its own different interpretation of the same dish […]. For me taste and ease is sometimes more important than ‘authenticity.’ I want to show you that Spanish food is not complex or difficult and can be cooked every night. You won’t have to travel the country looking for obscure and expensive ingredients, and I’m a firm believer in in shortcuts – if you want to use a stock cube instead of fresh stock, go ahead!”

Sounds good to me, as not only is such a realistic approach in the kitchen to be embraced; it shies away from making one feel resoundingly inadequate or as if one’s cheating (that, if truth be known, an assortment of other cookery books are prone to do).

Tapas Revolution consists of nine sections: Apertivo, Fish, Eggs and Poultry, Meat, Vegetables, Soups and Stews, Rice and Pulses, Desserts and Sweet Things, concluding with The Chef’s Cut – the latter of which ”has slightly more unusual ingredients and more complex techniques. This is for the true revolutionary among you.”

So far as some the recipes themselves are concerned, revolutionary might be an appropriate term here. One such example being the exquisite ‘Empanada Gallega/Tuna and Pepper Filled Pastry’ on page 140, which, apart from being one of my favourite dishes in the entire book, is something of a preparatory eye opener.

It really is all about timing, temperature and taste.

This wonderful cookery book not only ensures that the revolution is in good hands, but that it’s already started.  And should we not want to be left behind, we ought to sign up pronto.

David Marx

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