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Sunday, May 4, 2014


CHARCUTERIA; the soul of Spain (Surrey Books, 2014, 462 pages, ISBN 978-1-57284-152-9, $39.95 US hard covers) is by Jeffrey Weiss, chef at Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar in Pacific Grove, California (Monterey Peninsula). He earned a ICEX culinary scholarship to live in Spain, learn regional cuisines, and cook in top kitchens. This amazing book deals with Spanish butchering and meat-curing techniques in English for North Americans. There are more than 100 traditional Spanish recipes, with step-by-step photos, and engaging closeups of plated dishes. There's log rolling by Colman Andrews and Michael Ruhlman – at least they say something informative beyond "great book". It is also a partial travel book with some memoir material, good for the armchair traveler-cook or as a gift. There is some historical depth and a superb re-telling of "dead pig walking" as butchering is described. Not for the faint of heart, but real it is. There is a lot of material about charcuteria stylings, including some charts and fat levels. Then come the recipes: basic brines and cures, adobos, escabeche, confits, embutidos, pates and terrines, salsas, and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents (and p.437 is blank). There is a Spanish sources list with street addresses, other sources, a glossary, a bibliography, and excellent photography. It weighs almost 2 kilos, but it should be an award-winning book at a great price.
Audience and level of use: it is a good book for those engaged in whole beast cookery; also very useful for the jaded cook who demands more.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: caldo blanco; cured egg yolks; bacalao in green sauce; partridge escabeche; alioli; bocadillo de chorizo (sandwich); panceta curada; preserved pork shank and ham bone; botifarra sausages; chistorra sausages.
The downside to this book: there may be too much info here for many people, but it is a good reference book.
The upside to this book: the index has both Spanish and English.
Quality/Price Rating: 93.

Dean Tudor, Wine Writer,

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