KIKO MOYA Y VICKY HAYWARD. LA MODERNIDAD EN LA COCINA DE JUAN ALTAMIRAS
José Carlos Capel, president of Madrid Fusion, commissioned Kiko and I to come up with a presentation about New Art of Cookery’s inspiration for chefs. We wanted to combine his personal approach to historic cookery at his family restaurant, L’Escaleta, with key research from my close reading of Altamiras’s work. Here are a few moments from our on-stage dialogue, including Kiko’s explanation of his wonderful version of Altamiras’s Leche de Almendras (almond milk).
With José Carlos Capel, Presidente Madrid Fusión; Kiko Moya, chef-propietor L’Escaleta, Cocentaina (www.lescaleta.com **Michelin); and Vicente Pavia, chef L’Escaleta. Thanks also to sommelier Alberto Redrado. Video courtesy of Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión, January ´19 (www.madridfusion.net).
Altamiras’s book captured cookery in print at a moment when an anthology of popular recipes was a radically modern idea. Working on its recreation 275 years later, I wanted to revivify his words for readers, but also to encourage them to cook like Altamiras, using smell, taste, feel, sight and sound. A short film for Youtube seemed to be a good way to do it, and I was lucky to work with El Vincle, a dynamic young Valencian production company whose cameramen are early risers and keen cooks. Both skills were essential, as was a native eye for Spanish natural light. We began filming in Santo Espíritu’s friary kitchen, watching Fray Ángel prepare an estofado in an earthenware cazuela; next we were invited to film an aperitivo of Altamiras-inspired chef’s tapas in La Almunia de Doña Godina whose town-hall runs an annual competition in his memory; and, finally, I prepared a few of his dishes in my tiny Madrid kitchen as I had done during years of book research. So often Altamiras’s dishes are one-pot creations; and I wanted to emphasize how easilly you can make them in any kind of kitchen.
Fray Ángel Serrano, one of the book’s invited chefs, told me that when he read New Art for the first time, he realised his work day cooking, feeding the hens, collecting vegetables, picking fruit, serving three meals a day and washing up – all fitted around mass and other duties – is not so very different to Altamiras’s day back in the eighteenth century. We decided to use his idea to sum up rediscovering Altamiras’s book today for a short 90-second video. Pau Gaya of El Vincle decided to shoot the first scene at dawn although the friars start their day well before that while it is still dark, even in summer. Pau knew and understood the history, he’s a keen cook and he has great experience working in Mediterranean light and locations. Equally important, Fray Ángel enjoyed working with him. For the backdrop we picked San Cristóbal, the only friary Altamiras mentions in his book, and from there we travelled across time via an archive to Fray Ángel’s kitchen. We avoided any staged interviews to camera and instead Pau shot Fray Ángel cooking lunch and talking freely about his work, without any prompts. The final scene captures one of many mornings of work in Vicky’s home, where she cooked the book and wrote much of the narrative woven around the recipes.