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time that you can’t stay and enjoy it. It’s a lot of travelling, but it was a lovely, lovely, lovely time. I love people, and meeting the people is important. “For me, it’s all about the people. I was travelling all over Catalonia meeting new people who were giving me recipes, and I got to cook with them in the kitchen, which is something very, very special. “It means you get the stories behind the recipes. There are so many histories I learnt that I think I need to write another book about the histories! People are really fascinated about this; they take it very seriously. “That’s the point; the history of the food, the love people put into the food, the ingredients of the area...” Of course, the food you’ll find across the Med varies hugely from region to region – even just from village to village – depending on the climate, what ingredients are available, and what the people need. “Always, I say, Spain is 17 countries in one. In the north of Spain they have to eat stews and warm things – you know, it’s cold – but if you go to the south it’s sunny and lighter. So it’s all related to the climate, and the climate makes the people. It’s as simple as that. “And the regions make the food. Catalonia, they have money there, so of course it’s going to be different from somewhere where it’s more working, more land, where people need to work very hard to get the food.” José came to the UK 18 years ago, and was faced with a very different culinary landscape to that which we have today. In less than two decades, he’s witnessed a complete turn-around

when it comes to people’s knowledge and experience of Spanish food. “Definitely things have changed a lot. People now recognise Spanish food. Now you can see a Basque restaurant, a Catalan restaurant – this is amazing. If you asked me 18 years ago whether we would now be in the position that we are, I would say, ‘It’s possible, but I’m really not sure’.” “When I came, the customer was not ready for this cuisine, they didn’t know about the ingredients. Spain’s not just about paella, Rioja, things like that – they are just basic. There is a lot more behind it, and people – my customers – now do understand that. And I think the country is ready for even more. “We’re so lucky with people wanting to try more things, new ingredients, new cooking techniques, new cuisines – and Spain is bringing them now to this country.” Safe to say, this hasn’t always been the case, though... “Fifteen years ago I went to do a cooking demo in Manchester. I was cooking with olive oil, and many people looked at me like I was crazy – because they thought olive oil is just to clean your ears with! And we are not talking 50 years ago, we are talking about 15,



Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 68  
Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 68