Current Spanish Cuisine?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by rainliberty, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. rainliberty

    rainliberty

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    One of my chef instructors brought up something interesting in class the other day that made me want to look in to the subject. I personally haven't had the chance to visit very many Hispanic restaurants and I've only been limited to what's available in my area. While there is quite a large number of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants I'm not sure if what they serve are up to date with what other restaurants might be serving in Arizona, California, Mexico, etc. If anyone is working are eating in any of those areas I would love to know all about it.
     
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Just to clarify, Rainliberty, are you looking for info on Spanish cuisine, or Latino? There are some rather distinct differences---as there are, btw, between Mexican and Tex-Mex.
     
  3. rainliberty

    rainliberty

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    Well I guess Spanish cuisine as in from Mexico as opposed to cuisine from all Spanish speaking countries. Though I would be interested in any information regarding the two choices you provided.
     
  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    To me. FWIW, "Spanish cuisine" refers to the cuisine of Spain and "Mexican cuisine" refers to the cuisine of Mexico and though there ARE some similarities, there are far more differences.

    In Porterville, CA, we have a multitude of "Mexican restaurants" and a dearth of "Spanish restaurants". Actually, many of the "Mexican restaurants" are Guatemalan and  Ecuadorian rather than Mexican.

    For you, as a "culinary student", my feeling is that it is important for you to differentiate cuisines and you "topic line", to me, is misleading.

    From you post, you are really interested in the regional differences of Mexican, or possibly Latin American cuisine as offered in the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Is that correct?

    To further "narrow it down", are you talking about "street food", like tacos, enchiladas, etc., or more upscale food such as that prepared by Rick Bayless?
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    You confused yet, Rainliberty?

    Understand, please, that we are not dumping on you. But as Pete tried to point out, although a home-cook can, maybe, get away with confusing cuisines you're going to be a professional. And, as such, it behooves you to be as correct as possible. And in that regard your post is ambiguous.

    I'm curious as to exactly what your professor said that sparket the discussion.

    With the proviso that there are numerous regional variations, in general, if you say "Spanish," you mean food that represents the cuisines of Spain. "Spanish," other than as a language, has little relationship to Latino or Hispanic foods. In fact, because of the commonality of language, the same word is often used to describe radically different dishes. F'rinstance, a Mexican tortilla is a flatbread. But a Spanish tortilla is an omelete-like dish (well, more like a fritatta than a classic omelete.)

    "Latino" and "Hispanic" are generally used interchangeably to describe the vast region of Central and South America. Although there is no hard and fast rule, the Carribean, even though there are hispanic roots, is mostly considered as a separate region, because there are vast culinary influences that never, or hardly ever, touched the mainland. And specialized ingredients as well.

    But you're really better off looking at specific countries when trying to focus in on a cuisine. For instance, while the countries of South America have much in common, they have much more that is unique to them---even before you start looking at regional differences within each country. So you might want to develop the habit of saying, "Brazilian," food, or "Argentinian," than saying Latino or South American.

    Here endeth the sermon.

    In terms of Mexican, per se, there really is a difference between most Mexican food and Tex-Mex food. You could almost think of Tex-Mex as being its own regional Mexican food.

    Most Americans probably use "Mexican" and "Tex-Mex" as synonyms. The result is that, unless you have a Little Mexico in your town, any "Mexican" restaurant is most likely to cater to that viewpoint, and it's menu will reflect it.
     
  6. rainliberty

    rainliberty

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    Sorry for the confusion on my part. The question my teacher asked was, "How many of you have ever eaten at a fine dining Spanish restaurant?". The conversation that followed after was mostly about Tex-Mex or chain restaurants (Los Charros, Frontera, etc) from my fellow students. I don't believe however that anyone had actually been to what I would consider an upscale restaurant. This made me want to find out if there was more to the cuisine than tacos and enchiladas. So to be specific, I want to learn more about the current foods from Mexico.
     
  7. rainliberty

    rainliberty

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    Sorry for the confusion on my part. The question my teacher asked was, "How many of you have ever eaten at a fine dining Spanish restaurant?". The conversation that followed after was mostly about Tex-Mex or chain restaurants (Los Charros, Frontera, etc) from my fellow students. I don't believe however that anyone had actually been to what I would consider an upscale restaurant. This made me want to find out if there was more to the cuisine than tacos and enchiladas. So to be specific, I want to learn more about the current foods from Mexico.
     
  8. rainliberty

    rainliberty

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    Session data
     
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    So now I'm even more confused.

    If he said "Spanish," and what followed was a discussion about Tex-Mex, it's possible that your instructor doesn't understand the difference. And to me that's unconscionable!

    If I were asked that question I would interpret it to mean an upscale restaurant serving Spanish food. That is, food representing the cuisine of Spain, or some region of it. Piperade, in San Francisco, might be an example.

    If he meant "Mexican," that's what he should have specified. A fine-dining Mexican restaurant. Some of Rick Bayliss' places, perhaps, would qualify as that.

    As to Tex-Mex, there are very few, if any, Tex-Mex restaurants I would class as fine-dining. Most of them are, by definition, family places---good food (albiet with a limited menu), reasonable prices, congenial atmosphere. They would, perhaps, be fine dining when compared to a taco stand or to many of the chains (Taco Bell is a lot of things, but fine dining ain't one of them!). But you don't expect candlelight and fine silver.
     
  10. rainliberty

    rainliberty

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    Yes, that was the question my teacher asked. It wasn't however a topic that we were going over in class, but it somehow turned into a 30 minute discussion among the students. She may have meant food from Spain exactly but didn't elaborate. My fellow classmates brought Tex-Mex food in to the conversation, while I on the other hand wanted to know mostly about upscale Mexican cuisine. (ex. Frontera Grill)

    Session data
     
  11. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    IMHO "Spanish fine dining" is FAR removed from anything relating to Tex-Mex and/or Mexican/Latin American. Even Rick Bayless, I think, will agree that his restaurants are Mexican, not Spanish!

    Although "Spanish" restaurants might serve a "tortilla", it would look nothing like a Mexican tortilla.
     
  12. gunnar

    gunnar

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    Also an answer to the question of is there something else then a taco or enchilada in a fine dining Mexican place, yes. You will find that fish and chicken and good grilled beef and pork are a part of the cuisine. vegetables as well, cause it's also not all about rice and refried beans either.
     
  13. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    More than agree, Pete. Rick would, I believe, insist on it. He's not the one who's linguistically confused.

    And the fact is, Mexican recipes of his for things like Octopus and Cactus Paddles in Escabeche and Smokey Chipotle Beans with Wilted Spinach and Masa "Gnocchi" are as far from a Tex-Mex burrito as they are from such upscale Spanish recipes as Oil-Poached Salt Cod with Alboronia, or Grilled Lamb Chops with Salsa de Pasitas Rojas and Fennel Salad.

    My point being that Tex-Mex is a specialized cuisine of its own, which I think of as rustic, primarily street-food oriented, and heavily spiced. Not only is it not Spanish, it's not upscale Mexican either.

    I think what we really have is a case of a teacher who either doesn't know the difference between "Spanish," "Mexican," and "Latino," or who doesn't care. Certainly if she actually meant Spanish she should have corrected the class as soon as the discussion wandered off. If, on the other hand, she's using "Spanish" and "Mexican" as synonyms, shame on her. Far as I'm concerned, that would make her unqualified for the job she's holding.
     
  14. pxatkins

    pxatkins

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    Once you have this digested, we'll move on to regional Spainish cookery ;o)
     
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  15. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Hold on, Pxatkins, you know there are only two: Basque---and all the others. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  16. french fries

    french fries

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    I would not start with Basque cuisine as an example of Spanish cuisine. Surely if you asked a Basque what they think, they wouldn't identify their cuisine as an example of Spanish cuisine. Yes, there are Spanish influences to the Basque cuisine (from the south), just like there are French influences to the Basque cuisine (from the north). But I wouldn't call it Spanish anymore than I would call if French (ok, maybe a little more Spanish than French). A "poulet basquaise", for example, is considered a French regional dish and you will find it in many French culinary books as a typical French dish.

    But Basque cuisine really is its own cuisine. Remember, you're talking about a people who have their own language, their own culture, their own music, their own dances, their own sport games... and certainly their own cuisine.
     
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I was being facetious, FF.

    But, overall, I would certain include Basque food as a regional cuisine of Spain. Not any different, in that regard, than Catalonan or any other region.
     
  18. french fries

    french fries

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    I know - I wasn't really addressing your latest post, but your earlier recommendation for look at Piperade, in SF, as an example. I should have included the quote to avoid confusion.

    I see your point however re: Catalonia. I guess the Basque country is not the only one with a culture of its own, a language of its own and that spreads over both Spain and France. Just goes to show how highly regional cuisines from latin countries such as Spain, France and Italy can be. I mean I wouldn't think of Corsican cuisine as French cuisine, but it's not Italian cuisine either. And in a sense, Corcica's identity can be thought of as more clearly defined than the Basque country's identity or the Catalonia identity... Which makes it complicated to define a "Spanish" cuisine!

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    Last edited: Sep 28, 2010
  19. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Plus, Spanish cuisine is still emerging from the Franco repression. So what we see, on both the regional and national levels, is a rediscovery of traditional and artisan foods, on one hand, and the gee-whiz, cutting edge work of chefs like Ferran, on the other.

    but your earlier recommendation for look at Piperade

    I was trying to use a West Coast example, hoping the OP would know of it. But, more generally, any of Jose Andres' restaurants would typify Spanish fine dining.

    Which makes it complicated to define a "Spanish" cuisine!

    Or an Italian one. Or Greek. Or any other country that is, at best, a federation of culturally similar peoples. Or, worse, which are that plus having distinctive ethnic minorites. Is the food of the Montagnards part of Vietnamese regional cuisine? Is Algerian cuisine Berber, French. or Arabic? 

    Where my people come from invaders raped their way through about every 20 years, leaving bits of their culture and cuisine behind. How do we go about identifying something that eclectic?

    I wouldn't think of Corsican cuisine as French cuisine,......

    What we have, in cases like that, is cuisine defined by politics. Because Cosica is part of France, we would identify a dish as being French, but in the Corsican style. However, because Malta is an independent country, we recognize the amalgum of Italian, Turkish, French, British, Tom, Dick, Harry and their girlfriends influences as forming a distinct Maltese cuisine. What if Malta was part of another country, though?

    Which is one of the reasons I've always disliked "fusion" as a culinary term. IMO, all cuisines are fusion, and, as such, make that qualifier either redundant or ridiculous.
     
  20. french fries

    french fries

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    Very interesting indeed.
    And when you say Berber, do you mean Tuareg, Kabyl, or maybe the Jewish Berbers? There's just no end to it.