While Mia chose the country this month, I have/had a strong connection to it. I dated a guy for years whose parents were from there. At first, I knew little about the place outside of what most people are probably familiar with—the amazing food, the breathtaking artists, the long history, the fun music/dance, & the big sports played there. Over time, I learned much about the culture & my weekly visits with his family affected my life in ways that remain even today.
I was surprised to find out this country is officially known as the “Kingdom of [country name].” It was once a number of separate kingdoms with different languages until it was united in marriage. These kingdoms now compose many of the distinct regions of this country.
Any wild guess yet as to which country we’ll be reading about? No?
Well, this country has one of the highest life expectancies in the world & why not, since nudity is legal there which I’m sure gets the blood going. The country is a constitutional monarchy & a quarter of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) comes from illicit activities. Sadly, only half of all adults have the equivalent of a high school degree, however, the 1st “modern” novel is attributed to an author from this country.
But one of my favorite things I heard from my ex’s family is about this country’s version of a tooth fairy from a story which originates in the 1800s.
In this country, when children lose a tooth & put it under their pillow, a small mouse named Ratón Pérez comes to collect it leaving a small gift or money.
So what country are we reading next?
¡Cómo mola! ¿no? (Cool, isn’t it?)
(And that 1st modern novel I referred to above is Don Quixote, written in 1605 & the translation we recommend is by Edith Grossman which renders the humor well. View this translation of Don Quixote on Amazon here.)
The Spanish white wine I drink exclusively these days is because I fell in love with the wine that my ex’s father made in his basement. The croquetas, tortilla española, & Andalusian gazpacho I make today are dishes I learned from my ex’s mother. It was those dishes which sparked my culinary journey into Spanish cuisine along with books like these 2 multi award-winners I included here that you’d be crazy not to adore.
The first is a “culinary journey through a food lover’s paradise”. “Part cultural history & part recipe revelation”—it’s an “authentic look at the traditions and recipes of one of the most incredible & inaccessible culinary regions of the world.”
The second will “transform how you think about and eat the vast universe of vegetables.” It’s an amazing book that will have you “eating more vegetables in the most delicious and satisfying ways possible.”
Co-written by a Spanish chef who has “olive oil in his blood” & a James Beard award-winning writer, you’ll find a “new approach to cooking vegetables in an entirely fresh, surprising, & mouthwatering way.”
Both books epitomize the best in Spanish cooking I’ve found in recent years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
¡Qué aproveche! (This is a warm wish you’ll often hear while you eat in Spain offered by both strangers & family—may your meal nourish you)
HAVE ANY BOOK CLUB SUGGESTIONS?
Just let us know your suggestions from Spain by Mon., July 15 11PM ET.
(That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)
We'll use 2 suggestions from book club members, 2 suggestions from Mia (the book club co-founder), & 2 of my suggestions to compile a list of 6 books on which book club members will provide their thoughts. The book judged as best from the list will then be read.
Please note - We're specific in our books, they must:
Largely occur in the location specified unless the world described is an alternate reality
Be written by an author born there who has spent a good portion of their life there
Exist in paperback & ebook available on both Amazon & Kindle at least in the US & hopefully elsewhere