About 20 years ago, whilst on holiday in Spain and searching for a restaurant that didn’t serve “English Pub Grub” (why, oh why do Brits abroad want pie and chips?) I came across a lovely little restaurant, brimming with actual Spanish customers, which didn’t even have a menu in English. We had to try it out. It was a Monday so they wouldn’t serve me paella, the reason being that there is no fresh catch to make it with on a Monday as the fisherman have Sunday off. It was music to my ears so I explored dishes I might not otherwise have tried and returned the next day for paella.
On both visits I had garlic soup as a starter and it was delicious. Ever since, I’ve searched for a recipe which comes something near. I think I did make it once or twice when I got home, having asked the waiter how it was made but I didn’t write it down and gradually forgot quite how. Every recipe I have come across since has been for a very different kind of soup – this one was clear and light whereas all the others seem to be thick and creamy. Then about 18 months or so ago, I spied a copy of Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain on a friend’s book shelf and had a flick through. I already had Arabesque, which is full of fantastic spicy Middle Eastern delights so was interested to see what her take on Spanish food might be. I was so thrilled to see that her garlic soup recipe was exactly what I had been looking for too that I stopped at Waterstone’s on the way home and bought the book!
Having bought the book I then had to try the Lobster hotpot recipe. It was a well justified choice. I quite enjoy locality themed dinner parties and this book is definitely my go-to choice for the foods of Spain.