Andalusian Cooking for Beginners, Part 1

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Like many country folk round these parts I cook over wood. It adds such a lovely flavour . . . and I don’t have an oven. Luckily I grow wood in the form of olive trees which get a severe prune every four years, and various fast-growing flimsy things that have branches which crack off now and again when you least expect it, and which are easier to saw through.
So preparing dinner – Andaluz style – starts with dragging branches up the drive to the house, and sawing them. Initially I saw them into pieces short enough to fit into the hearth, and then, after a while, into long pieces that won’t fit, but will after half has burnt off.
Making a revuelto – a sort of broken omelette – is relaxing enough, but assembling the wood required to make jam and sterilise the jars is a gargantuan effort of self-sacrifice and physical endurance that I won’t be repeating any time soon.
Obviously, the sensible idea is to borrow a chainsaw, get a whole load done at once and keep it in the woodshed, but with one thing and another . . . To be honest, I still have to build the woodshed. The branches and hefty roots are currently under a massive, flapping, black plastic sheet held down by scaffolding at the back of the barn, a blot on the landscape I’m sure for the government officials who fly over it looking for illegal extensions and people to fine in order to meet the municipal electricity bills.
Generally I end the wood preparation session, slumped against the wall staring vacantly into the distance, with a glass of Rioja. I draw that out as long as I can, and then I think about what to cook. In Part 2 I’ll get onto that, the what to cook bit.


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