Cooking with Respect
Yesterday we had our first cooking class and what better way to start than to cook traditional dishes with the help of people who’ve been cooking them all their lives.
Conchie and Soly are sisters in law from Mairena who have been helping David and Emma for many years. To say their cooking is unpretentious is an understatement but they cook with great care and a reverence for the dishes. The people of the Alpujarras have always lived a very hand to mouth existence and even today some families still live and work as subsistence farmers. This means that you see your food at every stage of production from sowing to harvest and every day you are thinking about the quality of the crop, the implications of weather and whether or not your family will have to go hungry through the winter. Given this daily obsession with food production it would be terrible if, after all the effort and stress, the food was spoiled at the last moment by cooking. Cooking and eating are the final chapters in this food’s story and both should do justice to the food and show respect to the growers and the weather/water gods who enable its growth and ripening. Lacking the same sense of connection we supermarket shoppers have less respect for the food in our larders which may explain in part why we waste as much as 40% of what we buy.
Our lesson included meatballs in almond sauce, tortilla, migas and fried aubergines with molasses.
Migas we’ve written about before here. The others were all typical dishes regularly eaten by families living in the Alpujarras and use produce grown in and around the villages.
The morning was a great introduction to the food and traditions of the area and is with many cooks, Soly and Conchie are hugely generous with their knowledge, time and delicious food.