Fascinated by the unusual Catalan flavours, I bought this book. At the beginning I was a little bit disappointed, because it is laid out in a strange way, by main ingredients, rather than by kind of plate (starters, main dishes and so on). But when I got used to it I was able to appreciate the research Andrews made before writing it. There are no pictures and, usually, I don't like cookbooks that lack them, but there are nice and interesting anectodes about every recipe and the description can partly substitute the photos. At the end there is a "normal" index, I mean with plates in the usual order, which I found quite useful. There is a nice introduction and interesting appendixes about Paisos Catalans and their history and legends. There is also aguide to the pronunciation of the different dishes, which can be really useful if you travel to Catalonia. The recipes are always clear and easy to follow, even if sometimes the author is really a purist (when he suggests to make picada in a pestle and mortar), but you can use easier techniques. Finally I just want to say I'm glad I bought this book and I would suggest it to anyone that loves or just wants to discover Catalan flavours.
Being a Catalan myself interested in cookery, I bought this book many years ago. I thought that it was rather odd that an American writer would spot so well the spirit and letter of the Catalan cuisine. He depicts the accurate historical frame and is pretty able to pass onto us the real recipes, many of them of ancestry origins. With some degree of embarrassment I use to recommend this book to my fellow countrymen as the best ever Catalan cuisine book.
We have had a holiday home in the South of Catalunya for the past 8 years and so I bought this book as a keepsake for the day when it goes... to remind me exactly how the food is prepared, served and so that I can duplicate dishes at home for our local guests to enjoy. There is a great deal of information provided between its covers, on the history and culture, quite apart from the recipes. A very interesting book in total, even if you aren't a great cook looking for some different inspiration. Read it!
I'm slightly embarrassed to confess that this book impelled my first-ever (and probably my last) fan letter to an author. We holiday each year in Catalunya and spend happy hours shopping in the markets and cooking what we buy. Colman Andrews' includes some great recipes but it is as an evocation of a region and its cuisine that I love the book. I bought my copy in a bookshop in Palafrugell and my family had to spend the rest of the holiday listening to excerpts from it. And no, they weren't bored. Honest.