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Edible Books
The Latest Culinary Craze:
Edible Books in Spain

By Richard Frisbie

Chef Firo Vazquez de Parga of El Olivar restaurant with one of his edible books

very 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.)

books at the 25th Annual International Salon del Gourmet

cover for the edible book translated 'Breakfasts in Madrid'

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 paper.

inside pages of the 'Breakfasts in Madrid'

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.

another page from 'Breakfasts in Madrid'

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 books.

A Punto, under the slogan 'we eat the books' is a book store and cooking school and wine shop in the center of Madrid, 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 bookstore!

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.

A PUNTO CENTRO CULTURAL DEL GUSTO. C/ Pelayo, 60. 91 702 10 41. 28004 Madrid, Spain

Firo Vazquez de Parga, Restaurante El Olivar, Moratalla. 968 724 054

www.tourspain.es / www.spain.info

The Ritz Madrid – A 5 Star Centenary Hotel in the Heart of Madrid

Air 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.

Related Articles:
Madrid Tapas; Treasures of Madrid; Memories of Madrid; Madrid and the Art of Armor; The Escalators of Toledo; Tossa de Mar, Spain; Valencia, Spain; Galicia, Spain


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Let Richard know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Hey Richard - another winning series of words, all put together in your usual brilliant, and very creative format. And hey, love those glorious photos - Wow, what scenery - looks like some sort of paradise. What a super life you lead!!!

--- John Clayton, Palos Verdes CA

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I want to go there!!!!!!! Mmmmm! Yes! Love the photos and your article, Richard! Have read the book, seen the play several times and now dream of seeing these historic places. I've been wanting to go to Spain for some time. Now at 12:30 a.m. I'm heading off to bed with songs from Man of La Mancha ringing in my mind. Thanks!

--- Betsy Tuel, Rosendale, NY

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You are fortunate to have Richard on your staff. Richard is a fantastic writer and a wonderful person. Congratulations to Richard and to you.

--- Denise Dubé, New England



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