TALKING FOOD: ALTAMIRAS AT OXFORD
Founded by historian Theodore Zeldin and food writer Alan Davidson in 1981, the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery has been absorbing and reflecting new methodologies and approaches in food studies for over four decades. Today’s talks – and, just as importantly, conversations between programmed sessions – may derive from natural sciences or sociology, archaeology or food preparation techniques, but the founders’ emphasis on history remains key in its annual debates. One challenge and pleasure of reading a paper at the Symposium, then, is its breadth of audiences, who bring specialist knowledge in many areas to any discussion while rarely including groups working within an assumed theoretical focus in any academic field. Presenting an essay on Altamiras to them in 2011 also required considerable background on Spanish cultural and social history, little known to scholars in general, and food microhistory details to pinpoint the sources of his book’s influence. To paraphrase the historian Eugen Weber, who did landmark work on the history of French cookery, it isn’t theory one looks for, “but information, documentation” and “how to handle them.” Altamiras’s fiesta dishes speak at both levels, and also of his personal approach as a cook. Here is the revised version of the Oxford talk as published in 2012 in the journal Petits Propos Culinaires, founded by Alan Davidson and now edited by Tom Jaine. Revisiting it in 2020 I have included some tentative suggestions on the means by which Christian cookery absorbed Jewish, Muslim, Morisco and Gitano influences. You can also read my original paper, as given at Oxford, on Google Scholar: Vicky Hayward, Celebrating with Altamiras
CELEBRATING WITH ALTAMIRAS: FIESTA’S SPIRIT IN FOOD
© Vicky Hayward, 2011-2020
Revised from the essay published in Petits Propos Culinaires, 2012
French cuisine held sway at Madrid’s Bourbon court when Juan Altamiras, an Aragonese friar, wrote a radical little cookbook. Turning his back on court cookery, he addressed home and monastic cooks hard-pressed by economic crisis. This he expressed clearly in his book’s title, New Art of Cookery, Learned from the School of Economic Experience (1745).1 But for him, unlike many of his contemporaries, eating in “times of calamity and misery” did not mean eating badly. It meant rethinking courtly refinement and celebratory food for rich and poor alike.
Altamiras, who cooked in friary kitchens in Zaragoza province and spent some years at a university college in its capital city, probably as a cook and certainly as a portero receiving alms, was not ignorant of courtly food. Quite the opposite. He emulated its art and architecture playfully for friary guests, tagging recipes for whoever he saw fit. Old-fashioned game sops, layered high, perhaps topped by a gilded hen, were, he wrote, fitting for a Spanish Grandee. A Visitor, spending time with the friars to inspect thei lifestyle, might be served marzipan-stuffed eggshells. Both dishes were elegant but not costly; their main ingredients, like those of many Franciscan recipes, were sourced away from a cash economy. But Altamiras also made clear he opposed hierarchically shaped access to good food. A pie of artichokes, hen and mutton, the priciest meat of the day, he tagged not only for “people of distinction”, but also as “a great treat for the poor.” Good food was for all. He wanted no hungry spectators at his feasts.2
Such dishes help sketch the Franciscans’ world for us. Social floaters, they depended on alms and their kitchen-gardens, but moved between prisons and palaces. They lived close to the poor, but rubbed shoulders with the aristocracy. In Altamiras’s lifetime their radius of reach grew. By the late 1740s they were moving north from New Mexico to explore California for the Spanish crown. This gave them clout at court and by 1767, when Charles III, Franciscan by sympathy, had inherited the throne and expelled the Jesuits from Spanish missions, their ascendancy was sealed. In the same month as the expulsion Altamiras’s book was reprinted for the fifth time, this time as a double edition which, thanks to new publishing laws, was subject to the author’s approval, making it invaluable reference for food historians today.3
When Altamiras turned away from court cookery, then, he did so knowingly.
“For surely,” he wrote, perhaps to justify his economic cookery,”‘a Cook who pitches his voice in any other tone will provoke a storm of curses and anger ….”
Why such stormy anger? Visitors’ accounts help to explain. Norberto Caimo, an Italian priest who wrote under a French pen-name, Livoy de Barnabite, described one supper he rustled up during a journey across Aragon’s eastern plains in 1755. It consisted of a scrawny chicken “you would say had been killed by dogs”, four half-formed eggs (yolk-only, from inside the chicken) and a black bread and olive oil soup. Eaten in the open air, the meal provoked a crowd of crying children “all naked and dying of hunger who … tore at our innards”. Historians support the drama of such accounts. Cyclical drought brought failed harvests on poor land and, in the following winters, hungry crowds flocked to the cities to live off monastic and friary kitchens’ soup and bread, doled into bowls at lunchtime every day. In some years hunger and speculation led to riots. 4
Against such a backdrop courtly cooking’s “expense, as if dictated in silver”, as he called it, turned some onlookers’ stomachs. Francisco de Goya, the artist, also born in Aragon, expressed it this way in a caption attached to one of his prints, “The stupid friars stuff themselves well in their refectories and laugh at the world.” 5 Altamiras was at pains to distance himself from such an image, no doubt true in some cases, but in others far from a frugal reality.
Small wonder, then, if New Art may initially seem mute on celebration.
In part, this is due also to our retrospective projections of fiesta cookery: the idea of dishes identified with and reserved for fiestas would be alien until well into the 20th century in modest homes. “There’s no chicken or a turkey, but a good rabbit’s the best of all,” says Juan, protagonist of Carmen Laforet’s novel Nothing (1945), putting on a brave face as his family sat down to a bare Christmas table. Laforet’s generation, who had lived through the Spanish Civil War, felt anger when faced with hunger, just as Altamiras and Goya had done, and expressed it in their work. Luis Bunuel’s film Tierra Sin Pan (1932), Miguel Hernández’s or Leopoldo de Luis’s poetry and Camilo José Cela’s fiction are a small sampling of searingly dark work produced during the war and the following decades of hunger or años de hambre (1939-52).
Oral accounts suggest the old fiesta cycle, especially Christmas, remained in place as long as hunger allowed, for it might bite deep in the cold months. “Chicken, turkey, roast lamb, turrón and jerez won’t have been lacking in wealthy homes…,” wrote Aragonese shepherd Jorge Puyó Navarro in his 1967 memoir, but for his family, “let’s just say it was a fiesta of bread, wine and dried sardines roasted on the embers or ashes….” 6 Christmas food ran on till Epiphany in wealthy homes while in friaries dried fruit and nuts and card-playing were small luxuries added to everyday life.
These kind of humble, improvised celebrations were well known to Altamiras and his readers. Using friary accounts and local archives, one can follow the year’s rhythm: Christmas, a family celebration; Holy Week a deeply felt and cathartic moment celebrated with economic flavours, especially saltcod and sweet bread puddings; while the November to December pig-killing and its paired fiesta, Carnival, were major feasts for eating a rare luxury, meat, often home-fattened, at the opening and closing of the year’s hungriest months. Local saints’ days, Virgin’s days and friary congregations, as well as San Francisco’s day – los días grandes – were more loosely structured community parties with variable improvised menus, from a mouthful of cheese and wine to four-course lunches baked and roasted in woodfired bread ovens. Such celebrations were characterised not by the food served, but by their inclusivity. As sociologist Enrique Gil Calvo has defined “estado de fiesta”, literally a defining state of Spanish fiesta, its details were adapted – and still are – to such an end.
Returning then to New Art, and bearing in mind British chef Mark Hix’s idea of reading spaces between the words of old recipes, just as we do for poetry, we discover Altamiras was not mute on celebration. He simply did things his own way.7
Community Fiestas: Los Días Grandes
In a brief and practical prologue to his book Altamiras gave a snapshot of a community feast. He sidestepped court cookbooks’ banquet menus and table plans to describe how he managed to cook on a simple hearth for a ‘holy day’ or día grande.
“When you need to feed many mouths, eg three hundred men,” he wrote, “govern the occasion this way. On the eve of the feast cut up the meat rations, lay them in their cooking vessels and when midnight has tolled, put your fire in order. Prepare all you need for your stews and roasts, and if you are making offal pepitorias, lay them on tablecloths so they do not turn sour. Carefully skim off foam rising to the top and, once your dishes are seasoned, set them to one side near the hearth, to finish cooking over a few embers. Once your fire is free, cook your rabbit and chicken cazuelas. Give them a little boil and finish them on a gentle fire, taking care to feed the flames when they languish; then, a small fire shall be enough for your soupmaking. If your kitchen is cramped find a field where you can cook; heed me on this. One Cook I knew did not do so and was suffocated by the smoke.”
The friars’ community feasts, then, were a little like today’s northern Spanish open-air pilgrimage lunches for which families and groups of friends cook lamb stews, cazuelas or calderetas, over an open-air fire and eat them in a large picnic with bread, wine, fruit and cheese. But since Altamiras was cooking alone and needed to prepare many dishes, his main concern was how to manage his fire, its timing, building and reducing its heat, during a complete night of “economic” cookery.8
Reading the book carefully one can pinpoint which ‘stews and roasts’ he prepared on occasions when he needed to feed many mouths. They fall in groups designed to make use of the whole bird or animal: stewed or roast chicken alongside a chicken pepitoria (a stew of wings, necks, giblets and livers); a trio of lamb or kid dishes – pluck pie, testicles and pot-roasted joints of meat on the bone; stewed or pot-roasted “cow” or veal close to recipes for calf’s head and tongue. Like dishes for country weddings, these were designed around whole birds or beasts slaughtered for the feast. 9
Friary accounts suggest livestock slaughtered for such feasts was fattened by the friars themselves. One Zaragoza friary cook noted the cost of hay among kitchen expenses and, on 13th May 1795, ‘un cabrito pa el dia de la Ascensn’, a kid for Ascension Day. Did the friary buy early for Easter lunch the following year or pay late for a kid enjoyed a few months earlier? More likely, given generalised economic problems, they were paying late. In all, that year, from January to June, the friars bought twelve kids, eight calves, one lamb.10
We learn, too, as always, from absent recipes.
What did Altamiras choose not to cook? The olla podrida, enriched by various meats, poultry, game and sausages, which caught so many travellers’ eye and was considered the classic Spanish fiesta dish of the day, is nowhere to be found. Nor are large game or wood-roast baby lamb or kid, written up as festive Spanish country food but with variable availability, dependent in the first case on hunting laws and in the second on seasonal limits. Instead his celebration food emerges as stews and pot-roasts simply seasoned with garlic, parsley and wine and set against everyday pulses and vegetables, taking up an unprecedented quarter of his book. 11
We forget how despised such monkish vegetables and beans were, even as late as the 20th century. In 1880 novelist Emilia Pardo Bazán highlighted this in The House of Ulloa, her novel set in rural Galicia. ‘“Vegetables on the patron saint’s feastday!”’ laughs the priest’s housekeeper. ‘“They’ll do for the pigs.”’ 12
But of course the Franciscans did eat vegetables on feastdays. Beans and greens were still served when a fiesta fell on one of the three meatless days of each week though they might be supplemented by a celebratory cup of almond-milk rice pudding, an omelette with more whites than yolks, or a portion of fish.13
When it came to fish Altamiras again stuck close to what humble kitchens could afford.
He showed he knew very well how to cook eel, salmon, trout and sturgeon, river fish abounding in monasteries with royal fishing rights dating back to medieval times, but he chose to lead on saltcod, dedicating the opening chapter of the second half of the book to it. Why? Altamiras noted readers might see saltcod as “a matter of little substance”, but fresh fish was a rare luxury far from the sea or rivers, in Spain and the New World. Saltcod, on the other hand, was cheap and an easygoing traveller, it served as a common denominator in diets of various geographical zones, it had a special satisfying flavour and signified clearly what voluntary holy poverty meant. Like street processions or colourful church sculpture, it could help make Holy Week memorable and the sacred real at the table. Altamiras, then, had good reasons to put Iberia’s first printed recipes for saltcod in a prominent place. Remarkably, he did not give one or two recipes, but over a dozen dishes revealing his capacity to analyse and explore the possibilities of technique and flavour, from old-fashioned onion and pepper to modern tomato and fresh green herb sauces. 14
Curiously, though, the dish which best captures New Art’s resonance and influence in popular cookery appears not in the saltcod section, but in a group of pulse recipes towards the back of the book. Among a group of flavouring options for a pot of chickpeas Altamiras threw in ‘hard saltcod heads’, garlic bulbs and a few chopped greens. Revealing this as a humble throwaway fallback to bulk up quantities when visitors turned up, it is nonetheless the first recipe we know for Lenten potaje de vigilia, which has gone on to be served on low and high tables alike perennially at every period and in every region, still accumulating popularity today in an age of lessening religious attachment. Sometimes it comes as a homely potful, others as a chef’s dazzlingly plated vanguardia dish, but all versions, however garnished, rely on Altamiras’s triangle of richly satisfying tastes, textures and colours: nuttily flavoured simmered whole garlic cloves, a rounded brininess given by dry saltcod heads, and the colour and texture of green leaves, now usually spinach but just as likely to have been borage, turnip leaves or hedgerow greens in the eighteenth century.15
Food Fiestas: Pigkilling and Carnival
Breathless and lively, Altamiras’s narrative account of a pigkilling, from buying in spices to making sweet lardy flatbread, was also new to a Spanish cookbook. Standing midway between earlier farming manuals’ practical advice but with no recipes and narrative accounts of pigkillings as family fiestas, it made clear where his heart lay. He gave six lines to what he called “the salting” – of hams and assorted cuts – and four pages to sausages, lard and crackling.16
Why include a pigkilling at all, one might ask? Clearly some friars needed guidance, especially on mission farms in the New World. Infact it seems likely Franciscan pig-killings depended on the presence of friars with existing practical experience as matanzas were by no means universal or continuous within one friary, but Altamiras also used his account to express attitude. In a seminal essay Spanish born cultural historian América Castro, writing in exile during Franco’s dictatorship, reflected on Golden Age Spanish writers’ positions on pork and ham-eating as expressions of opinion on purity of faith or pureza de sangre: he did not mention Altamiras, but he could have done. 17
For Castro, when seventeenth-century dramatist Francisco de Quevedo said he mistrusted anyone who did not eat ham, he sat with the Inquisition. But Miguel de Cervantes made clear he was a protective dissident. In Don Quixote he gave Ricote, a Christianised Muslim traveller, a meat-stripped ham bone to carry, ‘something suckable for safe-conduct’.18
So Altamiras’s racy account of a pig-killing, written at a time when the Inquisition continued apace, begs the question: what was his position on purity of faith in food? His whackily ambiguous title, ‘How to Dress a Pig, from Killing it to Hanging the Hams and Sausages: Of Special Use for Nuns’19, fled from piety. Instead he shifted his agenda to wink at the spirit of Carnival, the most hedonistic of the year’s fiestas, when the products of pig-killing were eaten. As a friar, he might not join in its fleshy masked revels, but he could smile with complicity at its world-upside-down fun, as relished by friends and family, and he could describe its recipes with relish. Modern times of plenty and Franco’s forty-year ban on Carnival make it hard for us to grasp how much it meant to families of modest means who lived frugally, but Altamiras surely understood. As Lope de Vega wrote, adopting a countryman’s voice for a couplet, ‘Por pascua garrovillas como, / y por carnestolendas, longaniza.’ 19 For Easter Day I eat carob twigs, / and, for Carnival, longaniza sausage.
Which would you have preferred and chosen?
It’s notable, too, that Altamiras’s account skipped none of the dirty work of a pig-killing: chopping and draining the onion for blood puddings (morcillas), catching the blood at the moment of the killing, washing the pig’s guts, soaking them in herb water and stuffing them with meat spiced the Aragonese way with aniseed, cinnamon, pepper, cloves. Altamiras made his cured pork, called by him tocino for all types – lean, streaky or fat (magro, vetado y gordo) – go a long way. Court cooks like Martínez Montiño might open banquets with platefuls of sliced ham, just as caterers serve them at cocktail parties, but Altamiras spread the flavour of meat and fat – often chopped and sweated with onion, garlic and spices to start a dish – through dozens of recipes. Many of its subtleties in mixes with spices, such as saffron and cinnamon, are forgotten today, but not its most important characteristic, the lightness of air-dried jamón, far from a bacony twang.20
What, then, of Carnival? Until a chance meeting with a friend led me to the Hostal Castellote, far-flung in isolated hill country in Aragon, I found it hard to identify any Carnival dishes. When I telephoned Mariano Lechal, who runs the family-owned hostal in the village of the same name, we discovered their famous Carnival dumplings were almost identical to Altamiras’s rellenos de pan y grasa, though he did not mention them as fiesta food in the book and Mariano himself hadn´t been aware of the similaries. When I asked him to write something for me for this presentation, he explained fiesta this way.
‘Our dumplings, or pellas, were born in the countryside where most people used to make sausages and ham from their own pigs.They are our big Carnival dish. We eat them only two days a year, Lardy Thursday, the day when Carnival starts, and the following Saturday, and the wait to enjoy them through the year, always as if for the first time, gives them the special feel of fiesta dishes. Our family have made them every year, even during Franco’s ban on Carnival, though we did not comment on it. You’ll rarely find the recipe written down: grandmothers and mothers pass it on, from memory, as part of a bigger tradition of transforming humble food into a dish that seats the whole family around the table, converting simplicity into a fiesta.’ 21
Altamiras could not have put it better himself. Food shortages through harvest failure or rationing might exist. World-upside-down fun might be banned. But cooks could keep the spirit of fiesta alive in the taste of their humble, resistant, celebratory dumplings.
Saints’ Days: Sweet Things
Beyond the world of the poor lay a second one, of more marginalised groups. Altamiras knew them well. Aragonese medieval law had defined ‘widows, orphans, all penurious folk, Jews, Moors’ as one class although in reality they had always formed fragmented households, sometimes living in segregated barrios.22 By the time Altamiras wrote, the group was shattered. The Jews had been forcibly converted or expelled at the end of the fifteenth century and the Christianized Muslims, called Moriscos, who were forced to convert in 1520, then left the Aragonese cities for the countryside where they could continue life in peace, sometimes protected by feudal landlords on whose estates they worked, paying rent in kind. Finally, though, an estimated 275,000 Moriscos in the Kingdom of Aragon, were sent into exile between 1609 and 1614. But the Inquisition kept working: in the eighteenth century, for example, the persecution of Gitanos, or Gypsies, became acute. Altamiras would have met members of these marginalised groups, however covert their origins, in the friary’s soup-kitchen queues.
Perhaps it is not so surprising, then, given his familiarity with this world, probably as a child and an adult, in both rural and urban settings, that he claimed their food for his book, while unusually leaving it unlabelled by origin. The odd Crypto-Jewish and Morisco dishes, generally flagged up in their titles, had appeared in earlier Iberian cookbooks, especially before the Inquisition got fully underway. For example, in the Libre de doctrina … del art de coch (1520), a landmark Aragonese-Catalan printed book compiled under the name of Mestre Robert – whose name was later translated as Ruperto de Nola – ‘Morisco’ dishes sat alongside others identified centuries earlier as ‘Jewish’ in al-Andalus’s best-known surviving cookery manuscript. 23
New Art, though, reveals something else: the absorption of Muslim and Jewish techniques, flavours and ingredients at the heart of Christian cookery, in its fiesta dishes. 24
The debate on such continuities is a lively one. Did wealthy Christians seek out what attracted them in Morisco lifestyle even though Muslim political power had collapsed in Iberia, as María Rosa Menoucan has suggested? In this theory, just as Arabic sounds were taken into Iberia’s languages and music, so its flavours and cookery techniques crossed into Christian cooking. Additionally, did converted Jews and Muslims who sought safety by founding convents, or becoming a member of a religious order, continue cooking or adapting the good things they knew from childhood? In Iberia historians have placed great emphasis on these mechanisms, hence giving a key role to wealthier classes.
Approaching the subject from a different angle, as Castro’s quoting of Don Quixote suggests, should an emphasis instead be put on a generalised cultural porosity in humble barrios and rural areas, as América Castro suggested in Don Quixote: refocussing on areas where families of different faiths, conversos or not, shared bread ovens, butchers and olive oil mills, for example, in geographical pockets with dense Morisco populations. This is a scantily documented food culture, but historians do cite evidence: L.P. Harvey confirms the Christian taste for meat from Jewish and Muslim butchers; M Padilla Marín describes Jewish baked goods admired by Aragonese Christians carrying bread to the same collective wood-fired ovens; and Leroy Ladurie emphasizes the extent of the shepherds’ cabanes culture, from Roussillon to Andalusia, from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, where teams of shepherds could include Catalans, Arègeois and “Saracens” preparing and sharing food for months at a time. It is no surprise, then, that the famous aljamiada hybrid dialect manuscripts were produced in Morisco villages in grazing areas, specifically in the Jalón Valley where Altamiras grew up, his family farmed, and where he became a Franciscan lay friar and first ran a kitchen.25
Probably the process varied on the ground between regions, valleys, towns, even families.
What is clear, by whatever mechanisms the flavours and techniques of other faiths reached Altamiras, he happily claimed them for his kitchen.
Take, for example, his bunuelos or dough puffs deep-fried in olive oil. Altamiras knew that Montiños, author of Spain’s 1611 baroque court cookbook, still standard reference, was at pains to make puffs using a butter or lard dough usually deep-fried in pork lard. Altamiras, though, flipped back to fatless bunuelo dough deep-fried in olive oil, as in al-Andalus – we know this from legal documents – and he served his puffs sprinkled with anis and honey, as they are still sometimes finished today, for example, in Catalonia for All Saint’s Day.26
Altamiras’s cheese-making is another case in point. To make fresh white cheese he turned his back on contemporary court cook Juan de la Mata’s instructions to use lamb’s or kid’s rennet. Instead Altamiras warmed his milk ‘in a new pot, used for nothing else’ and used wild thistle or artichoke rennet. Such a vegetarian approach to cheese-making has occasionally been interpreted to suggest Altamiras had Jewish origins, but it was a method widely and long used for its economy, availability and a slight sweetness given to the cheese curds. Not that this diminishes a bigger story: how Jewish f had been contributing ‘almost invisibly’ to Spanish culture, as historian Henry Kamen put it, since Roman times. Revealingly Altamiras did not use his cheese sparingly to fill small pastries, as court cooks did: he conjured up a feasting dishful of fresh cheese curls sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, possibly for midsummer’s day, as in popular celebrations in Valdejalón.27
While Altamiras made his own repertoire of popular sweet things mixed with older established monastic dishes, one absence again spoke loud. Although he kept a chocolate whisk in his kitchen he gave no recipe for foaming drinking chocolate, a favourite Lenten liquid breakfast in Cistercian, Jesuit and Heironymite monasteries. The Franciscans bought cocoa rarely, perhaps once a year before Christmas, generally serving it only to students, old folk and the sick. Did he, then, stick to his home-made pastries, fruit compotes, granizadas, and milk and honey desserts, the old foods of self-sufficiency, to mark his distance from wealthier monasteries fully engaged with the cash economy? 28
Hard to know. The friars were ambivalent on many subjects. One was the Inquisition. ‘How can there be justice if some are despised and humiliated from generation to generation?’ wrote Fray Luis de León, poet, theologian and Augustinian friar, who, like Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite, came from a converted Jewish family. He found himself imprisoned by the Inquisition and many Franciscan friars, too, faced ‘unequal dialogues’ defending their writings, some on food, against accusations of lack of orthodoxy.29 Cooking in a valley where villages had been left deserted by the Morisco exodus, despite their contribution to the valley’s agricultural resources and watching waves of imprisonments of crypto-Jews and Gypsies, Altamiras may have felt the food of the humiliated deserved recognition. His friary thinking seems to have led him to prefigure the revisionism of modern writers, for example Juan Goytisolo, who emphasized, ‘cultures more or less alien to [our values] do not for such a reason deserve to be shut away.’29
When New Art first appeared in 1745 it must have seemed an unlikely little cookbook, but it was to stay in print for 160 years and run through 20 editions, its recipes also influencing widely due to uncited repetition. When towards the end of the XXth century “la generación de ´98” turned back to ancestral culture and within such a broad idea its kitchens, his kitchen became a key source of inspiration.
Food historians have explained this success through the book’s simplicity.29 True, Altamiras’s everyday rural kitchen, his love of a good laugh and his intense if often unspiced flavours, uncomplicated by garnishes or additions to make a dish fit for serving at court, were key modern components of his dishes. But there were others. ‘The cooks should do nothing new in what they give the friars to eat’ – ‘los cozineros no hagan cosa nueva en dar de comer a los frayles’ – ran the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial’s kitchen statutes. 30 Altamiras, as a Franciscan cook, was allowed to bread with that monastic custom. He kept what was useful of early Aragonese and Castilian cookery, but happily brought new dishes, aromas and tastes into his friary kitchen. He showed that personal taste, however humble in origin, had much to say in good cooking and might flow from older loyalties than one’s immediate superiors: family, regional, religious and popular. This is a more likely reason for the enduring success of the book. Altamiras’s cooking, inclusive, invited everyman to the table, a modern art of refinement still resonating in Spanish fiesta cooking today.
Kamen, H. 2007: The Disinherited, The Exiles Who Created Spanish Culture (London, Penguin)
Serrano Larráyoz, F. 2008: ‘Confitería y cocina conventual Navarra del siglo XVIII. Notas y precisiones sobre el “Recetario de Marcilla” y el Cocinero Religioso de Antonio Salsete’, Revista Principe de Viana 243, 141-181
1 I have used Spaniards’ affectionate name for Altamiras’s cookbook, New Art. Translations from it and other Spanish sources are taken from the English book.
2 Much of the produce Altamiras cooked came from the friars’ kitchen-garden, hen-coop and orchard or as food given as alms: wheat, olive oil and ice, for example, in Zaragoza; and game from visitors. Wine was generally bought rather than received as alms. Cane sugar was relatively cheap in Spain.
3 For a good resumé of the Franciscans and their world in 18th-century Spain, see The Sacred Made Real, 2010 (London, Yale University Press)
4 I am indebted to Gillian Riley for pointing me towards Barnabite de Livoy, P. 1772: Voyage d’Espagne fait en l’Année 1755 (Paris, chez Cotard), also quoted by Sophie Coe on chocolate-drinking. On subsistence crises see Anes, G. 1970: Las crisis agrarias en la España moderna (Madrid, Taurus). On the Aragonese bread riots see Peiró Arroyo, A. 1981-82: ‘La Crisis de 1763-66 en Zaragoza y el Motín del Pan’, Cuadernos Aragoneses de Economia, 239-50. On aristocratic ostentation, see Terrón, E. 1992: España Encrucijada de Culturas Alimentarias (Madrid, Ministerio de Agricultura). For an anthology of the literary sources often quoted on hunger see Almodóvar, M.A. 2003: El Hambre en España (Madrid, Oberon).
5 Goya attached this caption to a print in his ‘Los Caprichos’ series (c. 1799). Two of the prints show the friars as wine-loving gluttons (Manuscript, Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid.)
6 Laforet, C. 1999: Nada (Barcelona, Ediciones Destino). Warm thanks to Dolores Campayo Sánchez (Albacete province, Sierra de Ayna) and Miguel Oñoro Alonso (León province) for their childhood memories of the annual feastday cycle. Jorge Puyó Navarro’s description of a shepherd’s family Christmas meal comes from his Notas de la vida de un pastor (1967, Huesca). His bread may have been fried in lard and served with sugar, as in New Art.
7 Mark Hix wrote about cooking historic and vintage recipes in The Times, 15 July 2010.
8 On court banquets, see the menus opening Martínez Montiño F. 1992: Arte de Cocina, Pasteleria, Vizcocheria, y Conserveria (Valencia, Librerías Paris-Valencia S.L.), 14-22. (The book was still in use when Altamiras was writing.) Juan de la Mata’s 1741 Arte de Repostería included ten engravings of splendidly ornate table decorations (1992, Burgos).
9 Vidal, D. 2003: Flor de Cardo Azul (Teruel, Instituto de Estudios Turolenses), 79.
10 Archivo Historico Nacional, Clero Secular Regular, Libro 18782, 38. The meats bought each year varied slightly, but keep more or less that balance.
11 Pulses or vegetables are the main ingredient in nearly a quarter of New Art’s dishes (50 of just over 200).
12 Pardo Bazán, E. 1990: The House of Ulloa (London, Penguin), 70.
13 Sundays in Lent, when the friars preached, were often días grandes, and Franciscan saints’ days might often fall on days of abstinence from meat.
14 See Casey, J. 1993, Early Modern Spain, A Social History (London, Routledge) 230, for a brief but telling account of the church’s tenuous hold on Spain, secured by such means.
15 Ortega, S. 1978: Mil ochenta recetas de cocina (Madrid, Ed. Alianza) gives a recipe for home cooks; BACALAO, monográficos de cultura y gastronomía, tabula 01, Barcelona, 2004, gives a chef’s dish (Andra Mari).
16 Alonso de Herrera, G. 1996: Agricultura General (Madrid, Ministerio de Agricultura) and Sierra Rigal, J.V. 1987: La Cocina Aragonesa (Zaragoza, Mira Editores S.A.).
17 In a Christian society persecuting converted Muslims and Jews who, in privacy, remained true to their original faith-linked diets, they might be identified by the Inquisition by observers of their domestic food habits. See Gitlitz, D. and Davidson L. K.
18 Castro, A. 1974: Cervantes y los casticismos españoles (Madrid, Ed. Alianza). Lope de Vega, the great playwright, satirised writers’ obsession with ham in a couplet later translated by Richard Ford, the English traveller, as ‘Therefore all writing is a sham, Where there is wanting Spanish ham.’ (A Handbook To Travelling in Spain, Part II)
18 The pigkilling’s original title – ‘Modo de componer un Lechon, desde que se deguella hasta colgarse: servirà en especial para Religiosas.’ – keeps the same double meaning.
19 See Lope de Vega, F. 2008: Rimas humanas y divinas del licenciado Tomé de Burguillos (Catedra S.A.). Franco’s ban on Carnival ran in parallel with Mussolini’s ban on Venetian Carnival.
20 Altamiras used lean or fat ham, or both, sparingly in over 60 recipes: it is a key element of his cooking umami, as Gillian Riley has commented.
21 Sent by email, March 2011.
22 See Harvey, L.P., 1990: Islamic Spain, 1250-1500 (London, The University of Chicago Press) on the 1247 Fueros, or laws, promulgated by Jaime I.
23 See De Nola, R. 1994: Libro de Guisados, (Huesca, Val de Onsera) and Huici Miranda, A. 2005: La cocina hispano-magrebí durante la época almohade (Gijón, Trea).
24 See Henry Kamen, op cit (bibliography) and Gitlitz D.M., and Davidson L. K., 1999: A Drizzle of Honey, The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews (New York, St Martin’s Press).
25 On fried puffs see García Sánchez, E, 1997: ‘La tríada mediterránea en al-Andalus’, in Con Pan, Aceite y Vino…. (Junta de Andalucía, Granada), Martínez Montiños, F., op cit, 198-203, and Ruscalleda. C. 2005: Cocinar para ser feliz (Barcelona, Viena) 64.
26 On Altamiras’s Jewish origins see Aguilera Pleguezuelo, J. 2002: Las cocinas árabe y judía y la cocina española (Malaga, Arguval), 115. On the wider Jewish and Moslem contribution see Henry Kamen, op cit, 9. On fresh milk dishes see Moran, R. 1996: Cocina de Cuaresma, (Alianza, Madrid), and De Sagastizabal, J. (ed), 1995: La Cocina Monacal (Barcelona, Planeta), 259.
27 Casey, J. 1993: Early Modern Spain, A Social History (London, Routledge), 231
28 See, for example, Goytisolo, J. Ensayos literarios (1967-1999)(Galaxia Gutenberg, Barcelona), 885.
29 Martínez Llopis, M. 1995: Historia de la gastronomía española (Huesca, Val de Onsera).
30 Sánchez Meco, G. 1998: Arte de Cozina en los Tiempos de Felipe II (El Escorial, Concejalía de Cultura), 205.