“Much More Than Tapas”: Food Trends and Culture in 21st-Century Spain

December 8, 2012

Javier Lastras/Flickr
Carpaccio de Bacalao y Carabineros con Setas en Escabeche y aire de Cerveza Negra

In the last decade Spain has earned a reputation as a star of the culinary world, but this honor is not due to paella or tortilla but to molecular gastronomy. In a country so rich in regional foods, culture and products, this association is not always fair or correct.

In a country where food traditions are millenary, one feels the influence of the Romans, the Jews, the Moors and the Americas, and Spanish food culture has evolved into something very diverse, rich and at times perplexing. In some respects Spain is deeply traditional and in others there is a peculiar modernity.
 
On the traditional side Spain still reveres the pig, and pork products are elevated to iconic status in the form of the Iberian or black-hoofed pig. Having several ham cutters at your wedding is still the ultimate status symbol.
 
On the modern side Spain is the land of Thermomix, and every good housewife (whether stay at home or not) is besotted with this German cooking robot, which weighs, stirs, kneads, stews, chops and much more, and retails for about $1200. For the working mom there is now the convenience of ready-made gazpacho and tortilla where once they would have spent hours making them from scratch.
 
To guide us through modern Spanish cooking is Blanca Valencia. Blanca grew up in Spain and Latin America. She was educated in Virginia and started work as a management consultant in Spain, moving to London in 2000. Food has always been a passion in her life, and, in 2003, she made a career change and left consulting to study at Le Cordon Bleu. Having graduated with a grand diplome, she has spent the past 10 years working in the culinary industry in London, Spain, and now Chicago.
Recorded Saturday, December 8, 2012 at Kendall College.