Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Cooking Up the Nation

Cooking Up the Nation: Spanish Culinary Texts and Culinary Nationalization in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 321
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 184
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Cooking Up the Nation
    Book Description:

    This book looks at the textual attempts to construct a national cuisine made in Spain at the turn of the last century. At the same time that attempts to unify the country were being made in law and narrated in fiction, Mariano Pardo de Figueroa (1828-1918) and José Castro y Serrano (1829-96), Angel Muro Goiri (1839 - 1897), Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) and Dionisio Pérez (1872-1935) all tried to find ways of bringing Spaniards together through a common language about food. In line with this nationalist goal, all of the texts examined in this book contain strategies and rhetoric typical of nineteenth-century nation-building projects. The nationalist agenda of these culinary texts comes as little surprise when we consider the importance of nation building to Spanish cultural and political life at the time of their publication. At this time Spaniards were forced to confront many questions relating to their national identity, such as the state's lackluster nationalizing policies, the loss of empire, national degeneration and regeneration and their country's cultural dependence on France. In their discussions about how to nationalize Spanish food, all of the authors under consideration here tap into these wider political and cultural issues about what it meant to be Spanish at this time. Lara Anderson is Lecturer in Spanish Studies at the University of Melbourne.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-131-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Lara Anderson
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Spain is a gastronomic powerhouse of the twenty-first century. Its contemporary cuisine is recommended in the finest restaurants, heralded by the most prestigious critics and demanded by millions of consumers the world over. Spain’s relatively newfound position at the forefront of international gastronomy is due to the culinary genius of its avant-garde chefs–led by Ferrán Adrià – who have ‘taken haute cuisine beyond the merely contemporary into a whole new realm’ (Andrews 33). Working with such techniques as caramelization, liquefaction, emulsification, ultra-low-temperature freezing and the production of food-based ‘foams’ and ‘airs’, Adrià and his followers have spearheaded a movement in...

  5. 1 The Foodscape of Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Spain: Multiple Cuisines and French Hegemony
    (pp. 15-41)

    Spanish culinary nationalization emerged as a topic of discussion in the 1870s, at the same time as attempts to unify the country were being made in law and narrated in fiction. At this time, the Spanish foodscape was dominated by French cuisine, which was fashionable among Spain’s elite. Indeed, French or French-inspired cookery books saturated the culinary text market. Traditionally, the Spanish nationalist culinary project has been viewed as the exclusive domain of Mariano Pardo de Figueroa (Dr Thebussem) and Dionisio Pérez (‘Post-Thebussem’), two important journalists who attempted, to differing degrees, to codify a national cuisine for Spain that would...

  6. 2 The Emergence of Spanish Culinary Nationalism: Dr Thebussem and the King’s Chef
    (pp. 42-69)

    The emergence of culinary nationalism in Spain can be traced back to a series of letters exchanged in 1876 between Mariano Pardo de Figueroa (1828–1918) and José Castro y Serrano (1829–1926). These letters, initially published in the newspaper La Ilustración Española y Americana, were later compiled to form the book La mesa moderna (1888). Writing under the pseudonyms Dr Thebussem and Un Cocinero de su Majestad (the King’s Chef), the two authors discuss a number of different issues pertaining to the state of Spanish cuisine, with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on court cuisine. Initially, much attention...

  7. 3 Ángel Muro Goiri’s Bestseller: Culinary Nationalization and Commercial Success
    (pp. 70-94)

    Ángel Muro Goiri (1839–97) is one of the lesser-known culinary writers considered in this monograph, yet he is the author of one of the most popular cookery books ever published in Spain. Muro’s El practicón: tratado completo de cocina al alcance de todos y aprovechamiento de sobras, published in 1894, was enormously popular with Spanish readers at the end of the nineteenth century, and within a year of its publication it had been reprinted five times. As one critic notes, ‘El libro fue un bestseller de su tiempo’ (Almódovar 131). This popularity did not wane and by 1928 El...

  8. 4 Emilia Pardo Bazán: The Nationalization and Modernization/Civilization of Spanish Cuisine
    (pp. 95-119)

    The acclaimed novelist and journalist Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851–1921) is without a doubt the most well known of the authors discussed in this book. Although she is held in high esteem for her prolific literary and journalistic production, much of which – unlike the writing of her female contemporaries – was considered canonical, relatively little has been said about the fact that less than ten years before her death she penned two cookery books: La cocina española antigua (1913) and La cocina española moderna (1917). That Pardo Bazán wrote these cookery books appears to represent an anomaly, given her steadfast determination...

  9. 5 Post-Thebussem: Regional Pluralism and the Re-vindication and Nationalization of Spanish Cuisine
    (pp. 120-145)

    Dionisio Pérez (‘Post-Thebussem’), whose three gastronomic texts, Guía del buen comer español (1929), Naranjas: el arte de prepararlas y comerlas (1930) and La cocina clásica española. Excelencias. Amenidades. Historia. Recetarios. (posthumous 1936), are the subject of my discussion in this chapter, has the most enduring celebrity of the culinary writers included in this monograph. Indeed, critics and historians of Spanish gastronomy are unanimous in their appraisal of Post-Thebussem as one of Spain’s most authoritative food writers. For instance, Alberto Insúa claims that although many Spanish writers and intellectuals at the end of the nineteenth century wrote about Spanish cuisine, ‘[n]inguno...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 146-151)

    It is commonplace these days to conceptualize Spanish cuisine as the sum of its regional cuisines, to regard autochthonous Spanish cuisine as, at the very least, on a par with other leading world cuisines and to view the country’s gastronomic offerings as a compelling reason to travel to Spain. However, when Dr Thebussem, the King’s Chef, Muro, Pardo Bazán and Post-Thebussem began looking for ways to imagine and write about Spanish cuisine just over a century ago, the dominant image of their nation’s cuisine could not have been more different to the image we are familiar with in the twenty-first...

  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 152-162)
  12. Index
    (pp. 163-176)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-177)