Book review: Made in Spain, by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez Made in SpainI was delighted to get Miriam’s part memoir part cookbook for my birthday last week.

I love cookbooks and have a stack of them not in the kitchen but by my bed. My favourite sort have a lot of commentary and background as well as just recipes. That’s part of the reason I’m such a huge Nigella fan. She puts a lot of herself into her recipes and writing.   The two women have cooked together before and Nigella’s “Gorgeous recipes” endorsement on Miriam’s front cover is a very useful thing.

The book is worth it for a mini rant on stock alone, but it has so much to offer. The food is appetising – although I might use a bit more garlic than she does – with gutsy flavours. I can see myself making a fair few of these recipes, although I’d have to figure out how to use less oil. From a vibrant gazpacho simple pasta with bacon and peas taught to her sons when she broke her elbow during the 2010 election to a delicious lamb stew to the most wonderful sounding dish with potatoes, garlic and saffron, to lemon curd muffins, to olive oil chocolate mousse, there are dishes that could make me very happy. You never know, I might just cook some and compare her photos with mine.

Her recipes are interspersed with personal anecdotes:

I was first introduced to guacamole when I helped to negotiate the EU-Mexican trade agreement.

is quite a claim to fame!

I grew up in a house where the Sunday gravy was venerated to the point that we always had some with bread to soak it up at the end of the meal, so it feels strange that Miriam never ever makes it. If I could change her mind on anything, that would be it.

She begins a recipe for meatballs with wry commentary on the time she said that men who believed in equality had cojones. This leads into the story behind her Inspiring Girls campaign which the proceeds from the book will partly fund. She’s actually putting some of her own money into it, too.

Political geeks will enjoy the anecdotes from the Coalition years. I want to know who the guy with the Gazpacho on his shirt was. Apart from the gossipy stuff, there are insights as to what life was like living with such scrutiny.

There are tiny inconsistencies. She talks about the derision she experienced from her family when she altered a traditional recipe and then gives a list of quite prescriptive instructions about what a paella should and shouldn’t constitute. She also has a new take on the British scone – making them with yogurt. I’ve made them with buttermilk and they’re lovely so I suspect this will have a similar result.

I was quite surprised by a comment that reinforced gender stereotypes. She compared her organised style in the kitchen with her boys’ more haphazard and disorganised approach. If she saw my blunderbus approach to cookery she might be less inclined to make such conclusions. Also, it is worth noting that men still dominate all aspects of the catering industry, including those which require organisation and fine detail.

A special mention has to go to Miriam’s three boys for their excellent photographs which illustrate the book. They make you want to eat the food.

Made in Spain is an enjoyable read, written with humour. It will make you hungry, though. You can almost smell the dishes as she tells you how to make them.  If you want to read something that makes you smile, has a bit of political gossip, feminism, good food and lovely photographs, then this is the book for you. You can buy it here.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Richard Underhill 6th Aug '16 - 11:14am

    Gravy should not contain flour or added water. Also save energy to save money and cook patiently. Preheat the oven to maximum temperature for five minutes. Weigh the beef and cook for five minutes per pound or half kilogram. Set a timer for two hours and keep the oven door shut. Result: rare beef cooked through by conduction, also excellent cold.
    “Angels must eat” also has recipes for Swedish icebox cake.

  • I only ever use a small amount of cornflour, mixed first with a little water. It doesn’t go lumpy at all when added to the hot meat stock.

  • Sadie Smith 6th Aug '16 - 4:31pm

    Interesting book.
    Agree about garlic and would add more than one bay leaf to some things.
    After cooking the meat, just deglaze the pan with wine.
    May well try some recipes. As with most cookbooks, I will make the odd minor change.
    And, yes Mary, odd to discuss gravy! Makes a change.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Aug '16 - 7:56pm

    Not sure what time you will get home? Want to eat a hot meal immediately? Do not wait for a microwave, go to the slow cooker for a casserole.

  • Peter Galton 7th Aug '16 - 11:58am

    I am looking to get Miriam’s book. I will put on my birthday list as I never know what I want !!. I work with some Spanish and they have mixed views on what we eat in the UK. They think we eat strange things !!. They are really passionate about food and seem to know a lot about food. The Spanish like the French are able to make something so simple, but it will be so good.

    Its good that us Lib Dems can talk about many things and not always agree, but can also discuss the merits of making gravy.

  • Talking about guacamole…………………………. I got it on good authority that once when Peter Mandelson was doing his man of the people stuff in his Hartlepool constituency, he thought the mushy peas on the fish and chips was guacamole.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Aug '16 - 6:39pm

    David Raw: Unlikely, no smell of garlic. Is your source a journalist?, if so with whom?
    Made in Spain is reviewed in Waitrose Weekend, free,18 Aug 2016, page 18, columns 1-3.
    “The same sense of joy and naughtiness also invades the political anecdotes that pepper the book. … intelligent and fun with a capital F”

  • Richard Underhill 18th Aug '16 - 6:42pm

    Caron 6th Aug ’16 – 11:45am: Try it once, mainly for the excellent meat, save some for salads and sandwiches.

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