The Latest Culinary
Edible Books in Spain
By Richard Frisbie
year I go to an international food show to observe the latest trends
in the culinary world. This year I went to Madrid,
Spain, to attend the International Salon del Gourmet, April 11-14th.
There are always new food-centric things to learn, new tastes to enjoy
(every booth hands out samples of their wares) and new people to meet.
This year was no exception. Here's the first installment of the many
marvels I encountered and the things I ate.
The Press Release said:
Firo Vazquez de Parga, del restaurante El Olivar
en Moratalla, Murcia, autor de varios libros, y el Centro Cultural del
Gusto, A Punto, inauguran el Salon Internacional del Gourmet con una
demostracion y degustacion de libros comestibles.
Oh, maybe you can't read Spanish. Neither can I, at
least not well, but since I know what the announcement is about, let
me try to translate:
Chef Firo Vazquez de Parga of El Olivar restaurant in
Moratalla, Muricia, the author of various books, and the Cutural Center
for Taste, A Punto, open the 25th Annual International Salon del Gourmet
with a demonstration and tasting of their new line of edible books.
(OK - I added some things, such as the "25 Annual"
because I knew them, and translated others more freely than perhaps
I should. But that is the gist of it.)
Edible books? This is news!
Talk about having your cake and eating it too! Now you
can read a cookbook, try out the recipes and eat the pages to learn
what the dish should taste like! Or, you can go to Chef Firo's restaurant
and taste the dishes by eating the menu.
This is fun! This is practical! This is Amazing!
The book I saw at the Salon del Gourmet was titled "Breakfasts
in Madrid". It is a restaurant-by-restaurant description of the
breakfast specialties of top Madrid eateries. Each page was gorgeously
illustrated with color pictures and text printed on a lovely rustic
Turning the pages, the fragrance of key ingredients
of each meal filled my nose. A lush citrus smell accompanied the article
about the first taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice in the morning.
A different page gave off an aroma of sizzling bacon,
another smelled of chocolate croissants. I held in my hand a beautiful
book, "Breakfasts in Madrid", and all I wanted to do was eat
it. The entire book was edible!
Naturally this culinary breakthrough in book making
and bookselling would happen in Spain. FiroVazquez de Parga has spent
years researching the project. He is a master of alchemy, creating dinner
in the shape of a book. He has to be up there with the other premier
Spanish chefs, the Adria brothers (of El Bulli fame) who mastered the
science of cooking as they dissembled and reassembled in another form
everything from peanuts to cocktails. And now Chef Firo gives us edible
A Punto, under the slogan 'we eat the books'
is a book store and cooking school and wine shop in the center
created with the intention of conveying food and wine culture.
It was the only bookstore represented at the Salon del Gourmet.
Their booth's shelves were filled with conventional cookbooks,
some sporting photos of chefs I'd just met at the show.
But they are more than a book store specializing
in cookbooks. They had a chef's station set up for cooking demonstrations.
At their shop they regularly host book signings where the author/chef
actually cooks some of his or her recipes.
Not only that, Apunto is a Cooking School. They
have cooking classes that meet regularly. They have their own
line of cooking utensils, too. Talk about one-stop-shopping!
You can buy the cookbook, taste the recipes, learn how to cook
them AND outfit your kitchen - all under one roof. I love this
But, as a bookseller myself, I wonder how ethical it
is to promote the destruction of books. I mean, how does a future generation
gain wisdom and knowledge if the books aren't preserved? And how can
someone preserve a library of cookbooks if they can't stop eating them?
While I wrestle with that dilemma, you can follow the links below to
find out more about edible books and Spain in general.
PUNTO CENTRO CULTURAL DEL GUSTO. C/ Pelayo, 60. 91 702 10 41. 28004
Vazquez de Parga, Restaurante El Olivar, Moratalla. 968 724 054
Ritz Madrid A 5 Star Centenary Hotel in the Heart of Madrid
Europa (the 3rd largest airline in Spain)
DISCLAIMER Richard Frisbie accepts free
copies of books for review, restaurant meals to critique, bottles of
wine and liquor for tastings, and all-expense-paid trips in exchange
for articles about the destinations. He is paid for these articles.
BIO Richard Frisbie is a publisher and
bookseller who writes culinary travel articles, is a columnist for his
local newspapers, and is a regular contributor to the many Hudson Valley,
Catskill Mountain and other regional New York publications. Online,
he writes frequent articles for EDGE Publications, GoNomad and Travel
Lady, as well as Gather. His 51 year old bookstore is online at www.hopefarm.com.
of Madrid; Memories
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