The Taste of Spain


At the end of September, Seville held its first edition of Andalucía Sabor, a culinary conference devoted, as the slogan went, to "Three Cultures" (that would be Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, medieval Spain's triumvirate) and "Two Seas" (that would be the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, which Andalusia straddles).

It was a big deal: Pretty much every star chef in the Spanish culinary heavens was there, from Adrià to Joan Roca to Carme Ruscalleda to Juan Mari Arzak. There were a few oddities as well: you got the feeling that conference organizers had invited Seiji Yamamoto, of Tokyo's Ryugin—which happens to be a very long way from Andalusia—mostly because they thought he was cool.

What happens when you get a lot of Spanish chefs together in Seville to talk about Andalusian food? You get Ferran Adrià explaining how all of his fame dates to some initial experiments with gazpacho. You get Daniel Garcia showing off the dessert he makes that bears a startling resemblance to an Andalusian rock formation. You get Quique Dacosta teaching how to get a good socarrat (the crispy crust that forms at the bottom of a paella). And you get a Muslim, Jewish, and Christian chef each demonstrating their religion's ways with lamb. Which, to the great satisfaction of gastronomes and other relativists, turn out to have a lot in common.

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