I don’t remember the first time I saw this cookbook. The illustrated version only came out in 2003, but in my memory, it’s been in our armoire of awesomeness (the hideaway for every cookbook and Bon Appetit published since 1985) since before I was born. The original edition, much less pretty than this one, was published just a few years before my mother spent her year in Madrid, and it instantly became a classic in Spanish cooking. If you are at all interested in Spanish culture and cuisine, or even if you just like cooking, this book is a must-have in your arsenal.
Hence, why I just dropped an obscene amount of cash on this baby. “Ediciones de lujo,” as they call this monstrosity, don’t come cheap. But I figure I’ll be able to keep this book around for a long time. After all, it’s practically fine art.
1080 Recetas de cocina is exactly what it sounds like – over one thousand delicious recipes, mostly from the Spanish tradition, but including many French, Italian, and other continental influences as well. Simone Ortega, the original author, remains one of the most well-respected cooking authorities in Spain; countless Spanish cooks count her among their influences. I mean, seriously, Ferran Adria wrote the foreword for this cookbook. And if you don’t know who that is, fire up your Google – he is THE biggest name in celebrity chefs in the entire world. But seriously though, look him up. I’ll wait.
This cookbook inspired a generation of young Spanish chefs, who are now regarded as the cutting edge of haute cuisine. That whole molecular gastronomy movement? Adria’s. And if another restaurant exists that manages to meld centuries of tradition with the avant-guarde as successfully as Arzak, I want to hear about it. This country is legit. And even with all that forward-thinking attitude, the chefs here haven’t lost their roots. They’re Spanish, and their food is inherently Spanish too. 1080 Recetas offers the most comprehensive look at those influences that I’ve ever found.
Also, there are cute drawings of fishies.
The book is organized by type of dish, including appetizers, sauces, eggs, poultry, and wild game, to name a few, and also includes a section on complementary information – how to liquify caramel, for example, and tricks on preventing onion-related tears. I wish I could tell you the trick for the latter, but unfortunately I can’t understand what it says. That’s what I get for being cocky and buying the Spanish version – my reading comprehension in this language makes me want to cry. But there you go.
The recipes are also all indexed by dish name and ingredient in the back, for your searching pleasure.
All in all, I’m beyond stoked to put this bad boy to use. My biggest problem at the moment, however, is choosing a recipe to start with. 1080 is a lot, in case you were wondering; the book weighs seriously 50 pounds. (Well, maybe not actually. But it is really heavy.) For the moment I’m just admiring it. I take it out every once in a while just to browse the gorgeous illustrations. Looking at them, you’d think someone just sketched straight on the pages with pastels (or is it chalk? I really don’t know.) I’m kind of obsessed.