July 25, 2021

"Cocina viejuna", when Spain took off the mourning of the stomach

"Cocina viejuna", when Spain took off the mourning of the stomach

After the rationing and the autarky, the Spanish tables were filled with color with "ye-yé" dishes such as the prawn cocktail or the fruit salad. Relegated to oblivion by new trends, the journalist Ana Vega claims them with "Cocina viejuna", a book that shows that nostalgia is also eaten.

Sirloin with green pepper, seafood salpicón, dates with bacon, stuffed pineapple, consommé, banana split and whiskey cake made the Spanish cuisine go from black and white to "technicolor", with carajillo and cubalibre end and end.

Vega, a Bilbao specialist in the history of gastronomy with humor and enthusiasm, recovers in "Cocina Viejuna" (Larousse) dishes that were "of a lovable horror" but whose "flavors and smells have remained in our memory even though it seems that we are ashamed of them, "he says in an interview with Efe.

This culinary change is the reflection of the social lived in Spain between the 60s and 1992, when the "modernity" was inaugurated: the migration from the countryside to the city, the progressive incorporation of women into the labor market or access generalized to products such as chicken and the arrival of other outsiders such as hearts of palm, pineapple or avocado.

The fridge arrives in installments, the minipimer, the espresso pot and the bar furniture makes a hole in the living room; the supermarkets appear, the families go to the restaurants to celebrate on Sunday or at least a certain date … "Carpanta stopped dreaming about the roasted chicken and the freedom and the uncovering that brought democracy to the kitchen. mourning of the stomach ", sums up.

So they opened a gap between widowed lentils or chickpeas with chorizo ​​plates where the ornamentation was important and colorful until it fell into baroque, and that had triumphed in other countries decades, and even centuries ago.

The height of sophistication in the 80s, recalls Ana Vega, was the cocktail of prawns, born in California plagued by the Gold Rush of the mid-nineteenth century; stuffed eggs, canapés and sputnik (a pinched ball with skewers) take receptions at home and the laborious jelly of the fifteenth century, by the work and grace of industrialization, materializes in the salty aspic.

Many of the recipes, such as villeroy oysters, were popularized from the "posh" restaurants to the more modest for the sake of modernity, which degraded the quality of their ingredients to become "stars come to less".

The social evolution, the arrival of the new Basque cuisine -in which the journalist finds old traces like the sea bass in green pepper sauce of Pedro Subijana or the scorpion fish pie of Juan Mari Arzak- did the rest and the duck in orange , of French origin and symbol of refinement, was relegated to the cheap menus of Chinese restaurants.

The siphons arrived with their foams and spherifications, the chefs set out to the R & D and the melon with ham was forgotten on the shelves along with the sandwich of fuagrás or the mortadella with olives and margarine of the children's snacks.

Still, there are those who share with the writer that some of the old creations "should not have been lost". Restaurants like LaKasa, in Madrid, have turned the Wellington sirloin into one of the attractions of its menu, while others like Horcher or Zalacaín have resisted fashions and now dazzle a new audience that discovers the pleasure of tradition.

Vega, who has invested two years of research and writing for "Cocina Viejuna", rejoices with it: "It is nice to recover where we came from to see our great gastronomic evolution".

Pilar Salas


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