Mixed reaction to Rick’s Spain

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).

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3 Responses to Mixed reaction to Rick’s Spain

  1. Ian says:

    I felt the programme was scant on detail.
    Suggesting Monasterio de Oseira was near to Santiago de Compostela was a bit of a joke. It is around an hours drive, maybe more, in a camper van away.
    Then there was the shot of him driving pasted a filed of Grelo; it was not Grelo at all. They were Col. These are only eaten when the plant is in flower. Other times, like as shown they are given to the rabbits.
    Using the VW as some sort of icon when he stayed in hotels is, for me, incomprehensible. Was Campy (what a stupid name) meant to make this whole trip look like an idyllic sort of adventure?
    I for one will not be watching another in the series.
    Still at least I know the real Galicia, and hopefully you are learning more about it on every visit. Like eating at the A Cofradía.

    Ian

  2. Richard Sweeting says:

    I must admit that I was a little disappointed that the section of the program about Galicia was only about 15 minutes, but I have since found out that the series will cover the whole of Spain in four programs, which doesn’t give much time to each area.

    On a positive note, the food and geography shown from the north of Spain was very enjoyable, including the making of black pudding.

  3. Someone that likes food says:

    You hit on one of the things that I noticed about this program. At least 50% of the program is not about food, but rather about the scenery. I have been to spain, and tried (with little success) to find food that was tastey and well made. I did find one restaurant in barcelona that was truely amazing food at a very low cost. The rest of the places I tried were some of the most bland food I have ever tasted.

    And it appears from this show that the same problem has been encountered as they focus on the scenery and the culture and seem to mention the food as an afterthought.

    I was quite excited to see this program as I was sure that I just had bad luck selecting places to eat in Spain, but looking at the recipes shown so far it looks like I had an average experience.

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