I ordered this book after hearing an interview on radio 4's midweek. I much enjoyed Rick Stein's tv series and cook book that covered the same subject, but while Mr Stein's series brought back the memories of Spanish holidays, Mrs Roden's book provided real depth to the subject of cooking in this vast country so influenced by islam, judaism and christianity.
For me, there were clear echoes of that most famous of food writers Elizabeth David. Whilst it is true that Mrs David's writings have probably changed the face of british cookery more than any other author, the occaisional mild, (or not so mild) scolding tone of her writing is a minor irritation entirely absent from Mrs Roden's work. Whilst she writes authoritatively both regards the evolution of food and the wider history, Mrs Roden does not seem to take herself too seriously. On the subject of the blessed alioli and adding pounded garlic and olive oil to bought mayonnaise, she observes "It is cheating, but then many Spaniards cheat".
Claudia Roden's introduction to each recipe and each chapter, whilst highlighting native food writers, (famous in their own country, but not neccesarily outside of it) maintains the food writing, as oppose to cookery book structure. If you enjoy food writing and education as well as recipes, this book will reward the purchase. Buy it!!