The BBC finally got around to screening the eagerly anticipated Spanish Cookery oddysey compiled by Rick Stein over a large part of 2010. Some of the Galicia footage, was filmed while we were house hunting and the local paper ‘Voz de Galicia’ at the time was full of excitement at the top chefs visit.
With the broadcast set for 20:00 we spent some of the afternoon texting and e-mailing people that we’d evangelised to over recent months; friends, family and mere acquaintances, and suggested that they may want to be sat in front of their televisions for one solid hour of Galicia and be awed at what they saw from our adopted homeland.
Amanda watched live alone as I was risking life and limb by dragging a set of ultra-effective lightening conductors around an increasingly stormy golf course. She then texted me to ask when I was getting home, because she’d like to watch it again, to see my reaction. And verdicts were already coming in from across the north of England by text and phone!
At around an hour to midnight we fired up the SKY+ box for my first viewing, and Amandas second.
Rick started off sailing to Santander and then drove our now familiar empty roads through Asturias and into Galicia. He cooked, tasted and pulled approving faces at fresh razor clams, succulent hake, cocido (pigs head stew), cave fresh cabrales, various empanada, and finally blood sausage, before taking a quick look at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and then running for the Asturian border.
It had been a twenty minute Galicia slot, time to show us some extreme traditional dishes, and then off to Asturias and Cantabria to try and do them both justice with similar short segments. It was a bit of a disappointment, beautifully filmed, enthusiastically narrated, but altogether a bit brief. We know for sure that many more cooking scenes were filmed, and widely discussed in Galicia at the time, but they must have been left on the cutting room floor.
And the feedback from our friends, family, and people we’d bumped into in the pub?
It was pretty mixed.
Most people were put off by the idea of eating ‘pigs head stew’ and pouring a two litre bottle of fresh pigs blood into a big bowl with rice and chilli to make black pudding, but each and every one agreed that the scenery looked fantastic, and the way of life that was portrayed was relaxed, friendly and peaceful. On the whole I think that the programme did us a lot of favours and sold Galicia well, but I have had to promise ‘no pigs faces’ or ‘blood sausage’ to some of our more squeamish potential future guests.
For me there was not enough time spent focussing on the sensational seafood which is the mainstay of the modern Galician diet with more emphasis on the peasant food from the hills like cocido and sausage. And what was obvious in this programme, possibly more than others I have seen Stein do in the past, is that he is a very awkward presenter. And a few words of Spanish wouldn’t have gone amiss (I’m a fine one to talk).
But, Rick, thanks for showing and exposing Galicia, we need every evangelist that we can muster. But don’t just take my word for it, here are some other programme reviews;
If you are in the UK you can watch the opening episode here (for a while at least).