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I'm leaving Plymouth for Spain, the start of a culinary odyssey,
where I hope to discover great food in places that many might consider
are well off the well-worn path to the Costas.
Well, I've got particular sort of soulful interest in Spain, really.
I first went there when I was eight.
My lasting memory was the food and the sort of strangeness of it
and I have, at the back of my mind,
a sort of sense of the remoteness of Spain but, of course,
I've been there many times since
and you have, at the back, the sort of memories of the civil war,
the Catholicism, the austerity of it.
But now a sort of... a lightening of everything
and I'm really fascinated to go out there
and see how the contrast works.
Is it still the old Spain or is Spain becoming part
of the sort of new Europe, and is the food changing?
Is it still the old sort of bean stews and quite heavy peasant food,
or is it the food of all those you know, Michelin starred chefs
that are sort of ruling the world as far as food is concerned?
It's just going to be so interesting.
The ferry from Plymouth to Santander arrived at lunch time,
our lunch time, not 2:30 in the afternoon, when the Spanish eat.
I thought I could smell cooking from the nearby houses around the port.
I was famished and so I made a beeline to the fisherman's quarter,
a stones throw from where the boat comes in.
Here, various restaurants and bars were vying for trade
giving open cookery demonstrations outside their establishments.
Most of them were making forms of paella...
Something I've been thinking about all morning.
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
OK, oh, yeah, no problem.
He said come back in 20 minutes and I did and it didn't disappoint.
As I thought, that's as good a paella as I've ever had. Lovely.
I'm really looking forward to the next dish after the paella
which is merluza a la plancha
which is hake cooked on a griddle but doesn't "a la plancha" sound
so much better than griddled hake?
Spanish restaurants like this are a bit like Chinese restaurants.
There's no decor anywhere. Stone floor, no carpets
and one of the things that you always notice
in Spanish restaurants - the telly is on all day, day or night.
Nobody watches it, but it's there in the background.
And also, the thing I like about it
is that people are allowed to smoke in here. Now, I don't smoke myself,
but there's a certain sort of freedom,
a sort of bohemianism about Spain.
You know, you can elect
to have smoking in your restaurant or bar or not.
Seems so much more sensible.
Finally, have to mention the wine.
I mean, they're so lucky on the North coast of Spain
to have Albarino. It's actually from Galicia.
It's got a lovely sort of lemony acidity, SO good with seafood.
Just thinking really about, er, what British people think of Spanish food
and I'm very much conditioned by my parents
who used to say it was filthy. Everything's swimming in olive oil.
And in literature, people like Byron, Virginia Woolf
all said the same thing -
Fatty meat, dry, old, stale bread, all that sort of thing.
But if you think about it, in the last 40 years,
British people have become much more aware of foreign food
and I suspect the truth of it is that it's just foreign
and I think when I find this food, the food I'm looking,
sort of hidden dishes, the peasant dishes,
then I'll find them very much more acceptable than my parents
or Virginia Woolf or indeed Lord Byron.
MUSIC: "El Cid" by Miklos Rozsa
This music, by Miklos Rozsa, is really important to me
because as a teenager, I saw El Cid around seven times
and from that cinematic moment, I was hooked on Spain.
Up until the 20th century, writers how came here
were more like bold adventurers.
They came for its wild and remote landscapes, spiritual sustenance
and yes, the whole romance - duende, as they say - that is Spain.
But not for its food.
But the real everyday food of Spain and it's part in history
will be the centre of my quest.
I'm helplessly addicted to Monty Python.
I remember that bit in The Life of Brian
when this Jewish guy says, "What have the Romans done for us?"
Well, you could imagine a Spaniard saying,
"What have the Moors done for us?"
Well, rice, oranges, lemons, saffron, almonds,
spices like cumin and coriander, pomegranates,
aubergines, melons, oh, and irrigation.
And this is my secret valley, studded with olive trees,
that lies in Andalucia.
It's here, in a converted farm house which has a splendid kitchen,
that I'll be cooking all the dishes I've discovered from my travels.
Beautiful dishes like roasted red peppers
stuffed with creamy salt cod and garlic,
and fantastic meatballs, stewed with cuttlefish.
And I love this dish of lentils made with Serrano ham.
But all that is yet to come
because my journey starts in the north west, Galicia.
The Moors never really settled here.
The Romans did and before them, the Celts.
It's very much like Cornwall or the West Coast of Ireland.
I've heard it said that Galicia is cows, Celts, fishing boats and fog.
I borrowed this campervan off a friend of mine
and he calls it Campy.
It sort of reminds me a bit of a vehicle that a retired librarian
and his missus might take touring Europe.
No offence to librarians, you understand.
But actually, it's quite useful.
I'm sort of rather a fan of Don Quixote
and it's a bit like, er, Rocinante,
you know, the slightly tired old nag that he had to take him round Spain.
This is the same and, d'you know what?
I'm sort of thinking it's got quite a nice little cooker in the back
and a fridge and some nice little worktops.
When I'm staying in hotels most of the time
I can probably buy some things from the market and do a bit of cooking.
So, I'm actually beginning to rather like it.
All over the landscape of Galicia
are these tomb-like granaries for storing corn cobs.
They're raised on stone mushrooms to keep out the damp and the rats.
To me, time seems to move increasingly slowly in these parts
as the rest of the world speeds up.
This is one of the most common vegetables in Galicia.
It's called grelos and thrives in the damp weather.
It's like a cross between kale and cabbage
and this is the House of Juan, a small restaurant,
'where only traditional Galician dishes are cooked.
'Here, the chef, Maria Jose,
'is cooking the most famous Galician dish, Cocido.
'The base of it is the pig's head.'
'Well, I did ask to see something really authentic.
'Now in goes the grelos, straight from the freezer,
'into the same stock the head was cooked in.
'Notice she gives it a huge whack of salt.
'Well, we're miles away from the salt police.
'Lots of other cuts of the pig
'are also cooked, with chickpeas and potatoes.
'I'd arranged to meet up with John Barlow,
'the food writer whose book Everything But The Squeal,
'describes why he loves the place so much.
'So I asked him, "What's the quintessential Galician dish?"'
This is it, this is it, yeah.
So there'd be a stew. Hog stew with grelos, that's it.
That's the one thing, when there's like a festival
or some sort of winter holiday,
that's what everybody has on a Sunday, you know.
Front shoulder of pork, the head,
some grelos, potatoes, chickpeas, that kind of thing.
All cooked for four hours, five hours.
The number one thing.
Because we were once filming in Wales, in Merthyr Tydfil,
where they have a thing called cawl which is the same sort of dish
but it's like an all-in-one-pot stew
and we asked a few locals there whether they liked to eat this,
and they just said, "No, no, no, it's all... We like McDonalds".
Oh, no, no. That's our...
it's something you notice straightaway about Galicia
is they're still in contact with these recipes.
No matter how much money you've got or how, you know, swanky you are,
this is what you want to do to celebrate your Galicianess,
would be to have a bit of shoulder of ham,
some pig's head, some grelos.
This is the big family thing on a Sunday. This is what people do
when they spend three or four hours, perhaps, eating it
and so it's very different from the rest of Spain.
Just as a matter of interest, before we start, how many,
ask Maria how many this would serve.
THEY SPEAK SPANISH
Seven or eight.
-Seven or eight.
Well, I can't believe this. I mean, I've got every bit of the pig here.
I've got the, the, I've got the ribs, I've got the shoulder,
I've got the snout, I've got chorizas.
I've got everything but the squeal!
Well, I never expected in my wildest dreams a week ago in England
to be slicing through a pig's muzzle...
but it's utterly delicious.
The whole thing is delicious. I mean this is great.
Got every part of the pig. I've got the grelos.
Will you just thank Maria and just say...?
THEY SPEAK SPANISH
This is Oseira Monastery,
where Graham Greene would come from time to time
to help strengthen his belief in Catholicism.
These somewhat depressing, dark and no doubt damp walls
really do suit the mood of the melancholic world of Greene-land.
But it's in nearby Santiago de Compostela
that all the world comes to pay homage to St James,
since his bones were found by a shepherd in a field,
illuminated by stars.
Since then, pilgrims have been making this journey on foot
for over 1,000 years, from all over Europe.
It was a great medieval tourist destination
symbolised by a scallop shell.
Nothing could match it.
The great and the good, the sick and the not-so-good
have paid homage to St James here.
I love this, it's called a Botafumeiro.
I remember a very excited Keith Floyd
telling me about it years ago
saying that it was the size of car and belching out perfumed smoke.
In fact, it's the size of a milk churn
and it's a medieval air freshener, because the pilgrims that came here
weren't exactly the sweetest smelling bunch,
after months on the trail.
It's amazing how something so practical
takes on a real religious significance
Pilgrims have always been big business here
and the little bars surrounding the cathedral
make a great lunch time trade.
The most popular thing on any menu here is empanada,
a bit like our Cornish Pasty.
But to see how they're made, I had to come here at 6:00 in the morning
to see Trinidad, who's been making them for years.
She covers the pastry with a sauce made with softened onions,
peppers and garlic and loads of oil.
Then strips of conger eel, cheap as chips straight from the market
and a smattering of tomato sauce.
Now even more olive oil and, finally, on goes the top.
Incidentally, this isn't a short crust pastry.
It's made more like a bread dough but because it's been made with oil,
it has an elastic quality to it.
On the dot of 8:00, the local baker lady comes round
to take it to her oven which is cooling down
from baking that morning's bread.
The earliest records show that these little pies
started to appear when the Moors invaded Spain.
The most popular filling here in Santiago,
being near the sea, is fish.
This particular one has octopus in it, very Galician.
Anyway, all I can say is that it's one of life's pleasures
to taste a freshly baked empanada with a cup of local wine. Muy bueno!
For hundreds of years,
pilgrims have come to this street to have their first decent meal
after weeks or months of being on the road,
and even now it's still catering for the weary travellers.
Just looking around here, it's really whetting my appetite.
Everywhere I look there are appetising plates of food.
There's a good little market near the Cathedral. It's called Abastos.
It's a bit like a farmer's market.
And right amongst it is a tiny restaurant,
run by a couple of young guys called Jargo and Marcos.
Because their restaurant is so small,
they've had to come up with novel ideas on how to use
-all available resources to the best advantage.
-Only ten seconds.
Witness the first time I've ever seen cockles
cooked in ten seconds...
by the steam from an espresso machine.
That's all you need for a tapas dish.
The cockles couldn't be better.
Sweet and firm and not a hint of coffee.
Today we are going to choose, er, the best fish.
-I think that we, er,
there is a hake, a very good hake.
I love seafood. My, my passion.
Let's go to the seafood.
THEY SPEAK SPANISH
How much would they be about?
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
And how will you cook those?
Yes, today. Er, pot of hot water.
-A laurel, laurel.
-Oh, er, bay leaf.
THEY SPEAK SPANISH
He has to work now.
He's gotta work, he's gotta work. OK. Fine.
'Yes, he's gotta work and we'd held him up so much
'I felt honour bound to give him a hand.'
Well, I must say, I didn't know I was gonna get enrolled
to doing a bit of prep when I turned up here this morning
but they're so short. They've got this lunch for 12 people.
They're gonna shut the restaurant,
but it's really a very elaborate affair
and of course I can only help them.
They've only been open for three months.
Basically it's such a good idea
and it's so nice to see young people getting involved like this.
I mean, gosh, if I was their age I'd be so excited.
Set up in this lovely little restaurant,
next to a lovely market and just going round the market every day,
buying what you want for that day's cooking only.
Changing the menu every day
so you could just cook what's best in the market.
I mean, it's like every chef's dream.
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
This sort of cooking is right up my street.
I mean, first of all,
he's just saying he's only cooking these clams "a la plancha" -
which means on the griddle - for two minutes,
and just saying that quite a lot of those Galician customers
like them cooked longer
but he just like likes them cooked as little as that.
This is the sort of way that I think Spanish food is so perfect.
It's sort of like Japanese food in a way.
The best ingredients, cooked as simply as possible
and now he's just adding a little bit of oil on top of there.
Just look at those on the plate there.
Just a little thin stream of oil
and then just some fried parsley.
I mean, that is just simple, perfect expression of great sea food.
He's a clever boy, Marcos,
because it's hard to do things simple like this. It really is.
To sort of... You know, the way of most chefs
is to make things difficult.
It's the sort of Michelin Guide way, actually, as well,
is to take something perfectly simple,
made by God and muck it up
and he hasn't done it and I love him for it.
As I said at the beginning,
this is where I'm going to cook the dishes I'm discovering on my journey
and the first is a tapas of mussels.
Well, before I start cooking this little tapas from Galicia,
I just have to say that all the journey,
throughout the whole of Spain, I was dreaming of being able to cook
my own version of Spanish food in somewhere like this.
I mean, you could not cook a duff dish
with a view like that, could you?
Anyway, I first had this mussel dish
in a tapas bar in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia
and what I really liked about it is the vinaigrette was quite tart.
More vinegar, actually, than I'd normally put in,
but it seemed to go terribly well
with the ice cold Galician beer at the time.
Well, first off, I'm going to open them
with just a splash of dry sherry.
And these will take about two or three minutes, no longer.
Cos as soon as they've opened, I wanna take them off.
And to help them cooking, I just put a lid on.
So after a couple of minutes, they're done.
Just strain them and serve them up.
This is a great starter when you have loads of friends round
and you're waiting for the main course to cook.
They look so appetising.
I keep reading in cookery books and elsewhere
about how you should throw away mussels that don't open.
I just think that's total rubbish, actually.
You should throw away mussels that are open
before you start cooking, are well open,
in other words, when you give them a little tap, they don't close.
Actually the ones that are still closed when you finish cooking
are perfectly all right to eat. Total waste to throw them away.
So to make this zingy dressing, you need peppers.
I like those long gnarly ones called Romano Peppers.
Cut them up finely, because you're not going to cook them
and they mustn't be chunky in the finished sauce.
What I like about cooking in Spain is it's all about the ingredients,
all about the freshness of them and the colour of them
and the cooking is simple and straightforward.
I just remember a very early experience going into a tapas bar.
Must have been about 16, I suppose. It was in Majorca
and they'd just cooked some mussels a la plancha -
it means "on a big griddle" -
Threw the mussels onto the griddle, put an old tin,
a sweet tin lid in top, I guess just to retain the steam,
scooped them up, put them on a plate on the bar.
Beer, mussel, fab.
So now some salty capers and they go in with the chopped up gherkins
I prepared before, and of course, there's a red onion in there too.
Now chopped parsley.
All you need to do now is to liquidise a skinned tomato
with lashings of olive oil
and that great Spanish invention, sherry vinegar.
I just love it, I'm a convert.
Out with the balsamic, in with the sherry!
Season to taste. In my case,
possibly a tad too much salt but that's me.
And then give it good whiz
because this liquid is the heart of the sauce.
I really does make a lovely change from moules mariniere
and it looks so deliciously summery
but fresh mussels at home
are at their tippy top best in the autumn and winter months.
This is a fab way to brighten up those dark evenings.
Mussels vinaigrette followed by a cold beer.
Asturias is the neighbouring region to Galicia
on my journey to the east, a hard mountainous place.
This is the land the Moors who had conquered most of Spain gave up on.
It was the mountains that defeated them.
Although they had large, well-trained armies,
this unforgiving landscape was too much.
Well, that and the rebellious spirit of the Asturians
who were widely known as fierce fighters.
One Spanish writer, Jesus Fernandez Santos,
on a journey from the plains of Castile to the Atlantic,
described it as like entering the threshold of a promised land.
Actually, my knowledge of Spanish is OK in the food department.
I can get all this stuff.
"Sidreria", well, that's a cider house, of course.
"Casa Poli", that's the name of it.
"Quesos", cheeses, obviously.
obviously, traditional Asturian cooking.
Just my sort of place.
The chef at Casa Poli is called Luis
and he's going to make a popular local dish.
When I was looking down the list of dishes from Asturias,
this one really caught my attention
because we don't do a lot of fish with cider back at home
but, of course, they do here
and I think this is the most famous fish-in-cider dish,
isn't it, Luis, very famous?
Si, yes, it's muy famous.
This is a typical way of cooking here in northern Spain.
It reminds me of classic and basic French provincial cooking.
We're not all that far from the border with France
and so I bet there's been
a little crossover of influences here over the years.
There's fried onions, olive oil and flour to make a rue
and then Luis adds fish stock
and, on a low heat, he gently thickens it and cooks out the floor.
I feel really privileged making these series
because it is about coming into the kitchens in somewhere like Spain,
particularly where the food is really simple
and just seeing what the telling details are.
Once you see something like that, like the degree he cooks the onion,
like turning off the heat before he adds the flour so it doesn't burn,
those are all the details you don't really get in recipes.
Now he puts in some Asturian cider.
This is really sharp and dry
which will give the sauce a touch of acidity.
It's not a bad thing when cooking fish, it's like lemon juice.
And then he puts in fresh peas, but I suspect,
given the right time of year,
he could easily have used wild asparagus or tiny broad beans.
Time to taste.
Very acid. Very acid.
-But now with the sugar.
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
I think this is a seriously handy thing to know.
I'll make sure my chefs get to see this.
A really simple way, even with this huge knife,
to cut hake into bone free steaks.
He's actually cutting the bone out of each one of these steaks
and just pulling it out. I've never seen that done before.
It'd be quite easy to do with hake
because they have a sort of plate structure around here
rather than bone, so you can get them out easily
but it produces a really nice, neat fillet of fish.
Now you can see what I mean about poaching in a pre-made sauce.
You put this on a stove with the minimum of heat
and the fish adds flavour to the sauce.
In fact, this area of Spain along with the Galicia,
Cantabria and the Basque country is known as the Land of Sauces.
In go clams, then some gambas, these large prawns.
They'll cook in seconds, really.
Then, finally, the fish is knapped with the sauce
and finished off with a sprinkling of saffron.
That's a new one on me, I've never used it as a garnish before
and I don't think I will, but when in Rome...
-Please. Very tasty.
Perfect way of doing the fish.
And thank you very much.
Mmm. Can't stop eating here!
I thought cider was really popular from Somerset to Cornwall.
I should know because I've drunk quite enough of it in my time,
but here in Asturias,
it is without a shadow of doubt, the most important drink in the region.
Far more important than wine.
This festival in Gijon is one of many to celebrate it.
It's curious, but after a couple of glasses,
you get quite used to the way that they pour things.
Can we do another one?
It's stronger than it looks. Whether a beer or cider festival,
it's an amazing place to meet people.
He's my husband, he's English, I'm Asturias.
-How you doing?
-I'm all right.
Just tell us about Asturias.
What does this cider, Asturias cider mean to you Asturians,
people from Asturias?
To me it means our culture, because, the way you pour it,
you drink it straight from, er, bottle.
-It's not the same, it's not broken. It has to break on the side.
-We call it break, you break the...
And it looks different.
It's not as transparent. It's more...
Has to be like that, then you're supposed to leave a little
so that you go like that...
-This is because you all drink from the same glass,
So that when you drink, you throw it so it gets clean with the alcohol.
-So where I drink there, I have to drop it here.
Plus, it means a lot.
We are always drinking cider and party, party.
-Hello to Cornish people, I love Cornwall.
It's was a rather rainy, cold, early Spring evening.
It felt more like Shepton Mallet than Spain.
I've just been watching three of those guys serving the cider,
the cidre and I think macho comes very easily to the Spanish.
The way they were standing there, hand held high,
looking straight in front of them, pouring into the glass.
And I was just watching, they were getting it as close as they could
to their chests and I was thinking,
a bit like a matador in a bull fight.
Not quite so dangerous, I have to say.
You know, when they stand there and the bull's horn goes so close
to their really smart chest.
It's like that, it's the same sort of seriousness on their face.
Love it. Love this too.
One of the things I really like at these local festivals
is to go and buy some of the food that everybody eats
sso I've got some, at some cost to me, I can tell you -
the queue was enormous - some local food.
I just find it so appetising, you know,
much as I like the odd hotdog, this is much more attractive to me.
First of all we've got fabada, that's their sausage, ham and bean stew.
Beans being the most important.
In here we've got tripe. A lot of people don't like tripe but I love it.
Particularly with this is sausage and pimenton, really good way of eating it.
Here we've got more chorizo, well it is Spain, but this time done in cider. I really like that.
It's really nice and acid.
And finally, or course, cabrales cheese, just on a slice of very nice bread. I've tried some already.
Cabrales, the second most famous cheese in all of Spain after manchego.
Number one cheese in Asturias, made from three different milks.
Goat, cow's and ewe milk. Ewe's milk, sorry.
Matured in caves, fantastic.
This is one of the best known cabrales cheese makers in Asturias.
His village of Tielve lies in the heart of the mountains.
And it's the mountains, the Picos de Europa, that is the secret of great success of cabrales.
This is where the cheeses are stored and the limestone is quite porous, so the wind blows through them.
The Spanish call this the "soplao" which means breath.
this is really amazing.
You know, I thought there was going to be some sort of stainless steel here
or something or some vestiges of, er, modernity but it's, it's just a genuine cave
and it's, it's running with water which I'd always heard about these cheeses
like Roquefort, because they need the dampness for the mould to grow.
But it's just amazing up here in the Picos mountains there's still bears out there and wolves.
I mean this is, this is as hidden, as hidden a thing as you can get.
It smells so ripe.
I have to say, cabrales is a cheese for serious cheese lovers.
The first time you taste it you may not quite get it.
It's acidic and has a parmesan-like graininess.
If I saw it on the menu now,
I wouldn't hesitate to be reunited with it and it goes so well with cider.
A friend of mine said I had to be in Oviedo for Easter.
When I see a procession like this and feel its emotional impact,
I yearn for a time when everybody believed.
It's so powerful.
The conical hoods the hard tap, tapping of their staves
echoing through the narrow streets, the flickering faceless eyes.
Everything is designed it seems to put the fear of god in you.
But the adoration of the Madonna and the procession of the penitent is at the heart of this celebration.
They say that god moves in mysterious ways and it doesn't get more mysterious than this.
I've been here a few days and I feel really at home here.
There's something really relaxing for British people about Spain.
It's, well if you compare it with Italy, Italy's all about style,
about the way you look, about the food, about e-everything.
It's gotta be the best pasta, the best tomatoes.
I love all that, don't get me wrong, but there's something relaxing about here a-and the food is understated.
There is great food here but you have to sort of go out and find it.
They don't shout about it.
If you say to them, what do you think of fabada?
It's always like hand on heart, this is where you're really touching me
but you go into restaurants, things are put down in front of you.
There's not a big effort to make it look beautiful but when it's good, it is really good.
And that's what's so exciting to me. It's, it's just going out and finding all those hidden dishes
that you don't really know about.
It really, it really appeals to the sort of explorer in me.
It's impossible here it's seems to me, for an hour to pass without someone mentioning the word fabada,
and here the cook Maria, at Las Penas restaurant makes it virtually every day.
She starts off with chorizos, cured belly pork and a lovely beans,
followed by black pudding and that's cooked gently for three hours.
She adds saffron and butter and it's taking on the colours of the Spanish flag.
It's nearly ready so a quick taste and a tad more salt.
Oh, by the way, you never stir it.
You only shake the pot, otherwise the beans would break up and the black pudding would burst.
This is a sight to gladden the eye of any Asturian.
I've see it in motorway service stations round here...
Fabada Asturiana, the culinary soul of the region.
I know very little, I must say, I'd never heard of Oviedo before I came here. It's a lovely place.
I'm so enjoying the Easter procession.
Turns out Oviedo is the capital of Christian Spain for 200 years.
I didn't know that. I've also just found out that the Prince and Princess of Asturias
are like our Prince and Princess of Wales
and also, get this, the Princess of Asturias comes from Oviedo and her name is Leticia, there you go.
Another iconic dish and one I've cooked many times, is patatas bravas.
It's a dish popular all over Spain and I love it.
Boil some potatoes and drain them.
Then fry a couple of onions with a clove or two of garlic.
Cook till soft and add pimenton.
Well, this is another one that's looking like the Spanish flag. I just can't get over it.
It's just these colours, the colours of Spain in the flag and in the food.
Actually this is, er, bravas sauce, patatas bravas.
It doesn't actually mean "brave potatoes".
It means sort of, er, fierce potatoes.
I think like the Cornish say, it's a brave old storm or it's, it's brave and hot.
It means it's fiercely hot and this is fiercely hot, too.
I've just put loads of chilli in there.
Now I put in chopped tomatoes, tinned are OK,
and then a bit of water and three or four dried bay leaves.
Some sea salt and to balance that, some sugar.
A splash or two of sherry vinegar, I love sherry vinegar,
and that as far as the sauce is concerned, is it.
All that remains is to saute those parboiled potatoes in olive oil.
I had a feeling that shortly after Columbus brought back these things like tomatoes, potatoes, chillies,
little cafes opened mainly in Seville serving up the food of the Americas,
and I wouldn't mind betting that dishes like this were on the menu, obviously minus the food processor.
What better way of showcasing the vegetables and spices of the New World.
What did we do without tomatoes?
Did we all live on turnips like Baldrick in Blackadder?
So driving further eastwards, thinking of the Mediterranean and seeing what appears to be Austria,
how could this happen?
I didn't envisage this when we were planning this trip and it's so blinking cold.
I'm going to see a friend, Chris Hadlington,
a chef from Plymouth who now owns a house in the Cantabrian mountains.
He's spoken fondly about the village where he now lives and I had warm expectations.
So here we are in the village.
-It's, it's not very picturesque.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
-What? Is very historic I must say.
-It's very high up. Nearly a thousand metres up here.
-God it's cold.
-Very cold, especially for May. Yeah.
-So where's this bar, then?
-Here is, this is the bar.
-Looks like a, a shed.
Well, literally the guy that runs it, it, he owns, he owns the barn and this is a community bar so it's
not licensed, it has no taxes and it's literally run for the people in the village.
-It never closes.
If there's nobody here you just help yourself to a beer and pop the money on the counter.
-Here we go.
-This is wonderful.
-It's a magic bar.
This is a real boy's bar.
-And here we are, always a nice bowl of, er...
-That is it?
Yeah, that's the caldo.
Caldo is literally, er, they'll give you a shot, just to warm you up,
but it's made with the, the bones from, these are beef bones.
And garbanzos which are the chickpeas.
Pimientos, the peppers, carrots, and onions and you drink it
in a little cup or a little glass and they'll just give you the, the clear broth and the stock is just stunning.
-Well, you'll taste it in a minute.
-So it's called caldo.
Called caldo, caldo is just stock.
It's the Spanish word for stock, yeah, caldo.
All the time there, it'll warm you up.
Fernando, Fernando looks after the bar.
Very, very nice to meet you, Fernando.
Can we have something to drink?
-I would have thought some...
-Dos vinos, por favour.
Well, I mean it's unbelievably fabulous.
I had no idea. I just thought it was all going to be neat and tidy.
-This is rougher, rougher than I could have imagined.
It reminds me, like in Cornwall, you've got all these like pretty villages full of holiday cottages.
Then there's a few villages left that got these disused cars,
you know, the wheels off on blocks or it's just like this.
This is very much a working village.
This is where the people look after the cattle, look after...
Would you ever get any tourists up here?
-Never see a tourist up here.
-That's the joy of coming up.
-And what about the food then?
-Oh, the food in this part of the world.
Well it's, it's you know, living amongst the mountains is fantastic.
They hunt wild boar, they hunt venison.
The rivers are full of fresh brown trout.
In fact my neighbour, last night when I got home, had just fished out two brown trout for my supper.
How fantastic's that, straight out of the river that day.
This sounds like Ernest Hemmingway, sounds like...
-So what, what would you eat?
I mean, presumably there's no restaurants around here.
No restaurants up here. Down in the valley you'd get restaurants.
You eat whatever's available.
When I first arrived here you think the food's fantastic
and then you find you go to a restaurant and it's the same food and the same food the next restaurant.
But what you realise is that they only eat a) what's local and b) what's in season.
So in the end you start to become very, very picky. Who cooks the best casido?
And, and how important is food and eating to the locals.
Oh, they, it's, it's, it's a religion.
-It's very important.
-It's a religion.
I tell you, these people, whatever happens, it's one o'clock, it's lunch time.
For a snack, Fernando fries fatty, salted belly pork
which goes really well with the wine, and then slices of black pudding.
This was made by Audelina in the next village down the valley.
I know this is not to everyone's taste but it is to mine and it may not be around for much longer.
Aude's just been mixing some rice
which she's boiled and cooled in this lovely terracotta pot and then she's added, er, fat.
Onions fried in fat.
Twice as much onion to the fat.
And I think the onion, the very, very slow cooked onion in the lard
is, apart from the blood which is about to go in, that's what makes really good morcilla.
It's got that slightly sweet taste of onion in it.
Now she's adding, er, sweet paprika, dulce.
That's very good.
So the mixture of rice, onions fried in lard, blood and pimenton
is forced into these casings made from intestines,
and they are gently put into a caldo, similar to what we saw in the bar up the road and poached.
She just said they'll be boiling for 20 minutes just to cook the blood and the blood's like,
it's a bit like egg yolk, really. It just sets the whole sausage.
Aude's said that she learnt how to make, black pudding, morcilla,
when she was, when she's a child but she's been making it for about 40 years, mainly for her family.
She's had seven children, but every time she makes it, she makes a lot of it
and if any of the neighbours want some, she, she'll give it to them.
And she says she's still, if she wants some, some black pudding, she'll still stop and make it.
She said loads of people make black pudding around here because, er, it's what they do.
Make morcilla, but, er, but she said they're all a bit different.
Everybody has their little personal touch, but I bet hers is the best.
I mean just by watching her and talking to her, she puts everything into it.
I'm fascinated. I'm, er writing the recipe, possibly only for my own benefit cos I,
I can't believe you could buy, er, bottles of blood from your local supermarket, but you never know.
If they see this, they may be encouraged to, to start stocking it.
Can just see it on the shelves - fresh blood, pigs.
This is the food I set out to find.
Ordinary people cooking dishes that have been here with them for centuries...
but who knows how long they'll last in this supermarket fuelled world.
That's really lovely and what I love about it is the rice.
It's just gives it plenty of body. You would have no idea there is blood in here
and people get squeamish about black puddings, but it's just there
to bind it together and the lasting flavour
is the sweetness of the onions and that, er, and the chilli heat from the pimentons.
It's really good.
After watching that, I needed to cook and campers are
brilliant things if you get the urge to create something you fancy.
I'm going to cook tortas con heuvos he .
Basically, that's corn pancakes, eggs and fried meat from chorizo sausage trimmings.
But first to make the pancakes or tortas.
Using maize flour, salt and water.
Mix it all into a stiff paste like a pastry and set it aside.
Now for the Eheas.
I quite often pick up dishes when I'm after something else.
Er, we were at this restaurant called Casa Poli
filming hake cooked in Asturian cider, very nice it was too.
But after I'd finished watching it being cooked and tasting it, they invited me to sit down
and have lunch, and I just chose this really simple thing cos I was not really very hungry after eating
all that hake so I, I bought some chorizo sausage, this and bought some corn and am making it all up.
I've got everything in the camper except a rolling pin so I'm going to have to beat the living daylights
out of this between two tea towels.
While I was having lunch, I was talking to the girl that, our translator,
and I said I'd really like this for breakfast.
She said, "Oh, no, no, not for breakfast."
You know we only have coffee and a, and, and a piece of bread or something like that, but being
British, also actually being rather a fan of the Mexican dish, Uvas Rancheros, which is quite similar,
I really like something, I would really like something like this for breakfast.
In height of summer back in Cornwall, I'd get shouted at
and told to get back into a camp site where I belong... but not here.
Er, it's just so nice sitting here in, er, Campy,
er, with a lovely sunny day out there and doing a bit of cooking. It's very, very peaceful.
Mind you, I don't want you to think I'm camping all the time.
I'm not like doing a sort of Ray Mears, you know, living it rough.
It's just occasionally, I like a bit of a, a bit of a cook.
The tortas are done.
I'll dry them off in a kitchen roll and start to fry the eggs.
I know the Spanish wouldn't agree but I think this would make a great breakfast at home once in a while.
A change from bacon and eggs.
One of the things I'm quickly finding out is that cooking
in a landscape in a camper one gives one a serious appetite.
As soon as I smelt the chorizo cooking, I couldn't wait.
Well, it's absolutely delicious.
Er, I know I say it myself, I'm quite pleased with my, er, corn pancakes.
They're really, really quite good.
I mean they're a little bit heavier than I remember them in the restaurant but they're very tasty,
and delicious, just tastes, tastes like chorizo and of course the eggs are so good.
I don't know, you never seem to get a bad egg in Spain.
You don't get bad bread either, wherever you go.
Even the Romans, who cared about what they ate, noticed how good the bread was here.
This is a little bakery in Orzales in Cantabria.
I think bread in Spain is an understated marvel.
I can't recall ever being disappointed.
It's rough and unrefined and full of wheaty flavour.
To me it epitomises the straight forwardness of Spain.
It's not the stuff of trendy boutique bakeries.
It is what it is and always will be.
Well, I've noticed loads of signs here in Cantabria and in Asturias for artisan bakers.
You can't get more artisan than this.
Everything obviously is, is done by hand but I sincerely believe it's not gonna change.
These sort of places will not die out.
Certainly not around here, because everybody believes in their bread.
So we won't be seeing any of those sort, supermarket bakeries with sort of dough with accelerators and
decelerators to make it all speed up and slow down when we want it. It's all gonna be like this, natural.
Just noticing what they're doing with their hands here.
They're first of all making a, a dent in the middle. That's to show that it's this bakery.
A little squiggle with a knife.
That's just to stop the bread rising too much.
They also make empanadas here filled with bacon and chorizo, and it's fashioned very much like a pasty.
I wouldn't mind betting, although I suspect my Cornish friends would be
harrumphing at this, that the Cornish pasty
is somehow linked to the empanada and as I said in Santiago, that goes right back to the days of the Moors.
In fact they had similar looking pastries filled with chickpeas.
I guess from my amateur baking days, er, they're knocking the bread just to see if it's cooked or not.
If it gives a nice hollow sound then it's cooked.
Just been fascinated watching the whole process.
I mean, they, they're craftsmen.
I mean... I just love watching people do things that they've been doing
all their lives and doing so well without even thinking about it.
Just thinking about that expression, bread is the staff of live.
It's almost like, bread is the sort of centre of our existence and
when you think about bakers, bakers like this, what's a job worth?
What's a job worth, what's a banker worth, what's a, what am I worth, as a cook or maybe as a TV celeb?
One thing that is certain to me, is that these, these guys are worth something.
All the people that buy this bread in the villages and the towns all around here
really, really like their bread and I just imagine what it, it would be like if this bakery wasn't here.
They, they'd be the worst for it, they'd be the sadder for it
and that, that... It means something to people around here.
So to the Basque country and this is the Basque's beloved Don Estia or San Sebastian.
One food writer said that the Basques are famous for their appetites.
They'll eat three times the amount of the average Andalucian.
Even their tapas are heartier than the southern equivalent.
Here they call it pinchos, and at lunchtime the whole town goes crazy for it.
Pinchos refers to the cocktails stick or pincho that holds
the various elements together. This one's called a gilda.
It's curvaceous and hot, named after a character played by Rita Hayworth in a Hollywood film of the '40s.
The whole idea of pinchos or tapas for that matter is that you
go from one bar to another, each will have its own speciality.
The Basques are extremely convivial people and will think nothing about giving four or five bars a go.
I mean just look at this variety here.
I mean you just come in here and you think oh, what am I gonna have, you know, you're spoilt for choice.
And over here we've got green peppers with octopus, onion and olive oil.
Here we've got anchovies with garlic, parsley and olive oil.
Here we've got some anchovy fritters.
Here we've got a Spanish tortilla. Love that. Ordered one myself.
Another tortilla with anchovies in it.
Of course some fried hake and here, some fried peppers from Guernica which is their speciality.
They take it really seriously.
There's about just under 200 pinchos bars in, in San Sebastian, but some of the top ones compete every year
to do the best possible pinchos and they've just won it with that dish at the end there, the Pincher,
which is a horn of pastry filled with cream cheese and anchovy.
It's really quite civilised.
At weekends the Spanish will often have a family lunch and come to a tapas bar
before going on to lunch and just have a couple of tapas, not five or six.
I like that idea because I love my food and the thought
of just coming to have a couple of spicy little things like that before lunch
would be really, really acceptable to me.
Find it a bit hard to start lunch at 2.30pm, 3pm but I could get used to it.
If I was making a documentary about fishing, I'd have to include this place.
It's said that the Basques discovered the shores of American before Columbus.
They sailed to where they knew there were plentiful shelves of cod, off New Foundland on the Grand Banks,
but they didn't tell anybody.
Canny people the Basques.
I'm a great fan of San Sebastian.
It's just a very elegant city right on the sea. It's quite special.
Couldn't resist just coming down near the quay for a few sardines but actually I'm here
to go to one of the Gastronomic Societies.
Now the Gastronomic Societies, most of them founded about a hundred years ago and they started
with a group of fisherman wanting to go out
and cook food amongst themselves and, and drink quite a lot
and apparently it was very much encouraged by their wives.
You could imagine they'd been out at sea for three or four days, come back and were loafing around at home
and the wives would be going, "Get out there, get out there with all your mates. Leave us alone."
Of course they'd then go out with all their mates, drink too much,
come home and fall straight to sleep.
Which was also well liked by the wives, if you catch my drift.
SINGS TRADITIONAL SONG
Nowadays there's not so many fishermen,
but they're still passionate about cooking and singing, and while we're at it, drinking.
Paco, the only one that could speak English explains.
-In San Sebastian there are more than a hundred clubs like this.
-What sort of food do you cook?
-Traditional Basque food or...?
No, no, not experimental because we are not, we are not, er, professional.
This is, er, our restaurants, eh?
No, no, no this is, er, nice food, er, like at home more or less.
Like at home. We have fish, of course,
because we are in San Sebastian but also meat
or eggs or, er, vegetables, everything.
Most men in kitchens, women say, make too much mess.
Yes, in here, too. In San Sebastian, too.
That's the reason that they, er, they don't cook a lot at home.
They're very enthusiastic these guys, er, so they wanted me to put some pass on.
Yeah, you're right, yeah, it makes it look better. OK, thank you.
But what these are, are, er, cod or hake throats...
and apparently years ago when fishermen were very poor,
it was the only bit they could take off the fish to eat themselves,
because you took the throat out, you can't see when you look at the whole fish in the market,
nobody would have noticed and they'd eat, they'd eat the throats.
Now, I love this.
It's, it's a bit like so many sort of peasant foods suddenly becomes really expensive.
They are really expensive. A kilo of these throats are now 60 or 70 Euros.
Just thinking with them bursting into spontaneous song like this,
actually they're a bit like the Welsh.
I mean if you said to a Welshman you know, where do you come from?
They'd, no way would they say from Britain.
They'd say from Wales and it's the same with the Basques.
Also, similarly, they've got a pretty serious rugby club here in San Sebastian as well.
These hake throats are called cocochas and if you're ever in these parts, make sure you try them.
They're really silky because they've been cooked really slowly and they're sweet, too.
Well, you know, manna and all that,
I mean we arrived here at eleven o'clock, er, to start cooking.
It's now, er, four o'clock and we're only on the third course.
Er, it's been a delight, I mean you know, they, they know what life's all about to be honest.
I'm really enjoying it.
These fritters are made from hake which the Basques call "legatza"
but I suspect that although the food's important here, it's the singing that comes first.
They're singing a song that only has one word, "hambre", and that not surprisingly means hungry.
Next time its Rioja, Navarra and the blue shores of the Mediterranean.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email: [email protected]
Rick Stein begins his culinary tour in Galicia on the Atlantic coast. He drives an old camper van, the perfect vehicle to discover places off the beaten track, to sample the classic dishes of rural Spain.