One of my favourite cookbooks is Catalan Cuisine by Coleman Andrews. It is worth getting just for his description of La Boqueria which appears at Appendix 1. As he says … just to see, smell, sense the food at La Boqueria – just to get some sort of abstract feel for it in its native state for an hour or two – will teach you a lot about the cooking of this rich and fascinating region, and will help bring Catalan cuisine alive for you. There are those who would say the say about Birkenhead Market.
The books performs a similar job to the market. We all think we know something about Spanish food and what Andrews does is show that there is a distinct style of food and of taste that is special to the particular region, its restaurants and eating places. I have only been to Barcelona once, for a long weekend, and I remember there was something carnal about the place or that might be the way I always feel as I walk around a good Spanish city. One of my favourite recipes in the book is Swordfish (although we tend to use tuna instead) with Raisins and Pine Nuts. The recipe comes from a cookbook that is almost 500 years old and there is something medieval and Moorish about it.
1and a half pounds swordfish or tuna steaks
a glass of white wine
juice of one freshly squeezed orange
a tablespoon of lemon juice
18 almonds, blanched and roasted
parsley, mint and marjoram – finely chopped
2 oz sultanas, plumped in warm water
2 oz pine nuts, lightly roasted
Flour the fish lightly in the flour then brown in a frying pan in a small amount of olive oil.
Drain the fish on kitchen paper. Deglaze the pan with the wine, orange and lemon juice and reduce the liquid by half.
Grind the almonds to a paste (a picada) with the herbs moistened with some liquid from the pan, add to the pan along with the sultanas and pine nuts stirring all together. Return the fish, season with salt and pepper and heat through and serve.
Will be eating it with slow cooked crusty rice and some salad from the garden.
Listening to Nilsson.