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Chefs + Restaurants

Spanish Foodies


There is possibly no better way to stir up a bunch of Spanish foodies than to get them started on the Michelin guide. Spain is convinced—and it may be right—that it's the object of shameful discrimination from its northern neighbor. Michelin is France, the argument goes, and France is miffed that Spain has displaced it as the most exciting culinary destination in the world. Hence, the payback.

The 2008 edition, just released, adds to the affront. No new 3-stars, only one 2-star, and only 14 new 1-stars. Combined with the nine stars that the guide's inspectors repealed, Spain comes up with a grand total of 134 stars. The press isn't pleased. For El País, the count is "ridiculous." For El Mundo, which lists a slew of Spanish restaurants that would have three stars "if they were located in France," the treatment is nothing short of "squalid." "Permanent abuse," spits the weekly ABC.

They have a point. It's hard to reconcile the routinely ecstatic treatment that Spanish food gets these days with the country's measly star count. It might be possible to chalk up Tokyo's superior count—191, and that's just the city—to craven marketing; this was the first year that Michelin issued an Asian guide. But Germany got a total of 208 stars, 74 more than Spain. German food, better than Spanish. Think about that.