Spain is perhaps one of the last places in the world you’d think of as a haven for vegans, the reason can be summed up in one word - jamon.
Of course the Spanish have more in their culinary arsenal than pork products, but oh what a big gun it is.
Interestingly while Gonzalo Baro was born in Madrid, he is pretty much a natural German having lived in Austria and Germany much of his life since the age of four. Anyone who has eaten in those countries might well become rather sick of the sight of meat.
He works today as a chef in a Berlin boutique hotel, having published his first book Vegan Tapas a few years ago, So he knows his cooking and he knows how to cook for paying customers, which is not something every vegan cook has experience of.
He understands the natural scepticism he faces when people hear Spanish and Vegan in the same sentence, the rather oxymoronic nature of it, Nonetheless the book is broken down into Spanish-style chapters - tapas, pinchos, starters, mains, desserts.
After a chapter on preparing basics, the building blocks of many dishes - broths, mojo verde, aioli, romesco sauce etc it’s into the tapas and the first is striking, aubergine with black treacle - an Andulasian dish where the aubergine is deep fried.
It’s a good start, even the most hardened carnivore finds it hard to resist something deep fried. Also rather delicious sounding is his courgette tempura with shallots in sherry vinegar and piquiilo pepper sauce, the Spanish like frying almost as much as they like pork.
Simple and good comes with a dish of pan-seared lettuce hearts, lettuce loves a bit of fierce heat and here he pairs the lettuces with peppers and pine nuts.
For mains he creates a ‘chorizo’ from a whole host of spices, including amusingly Marmite, flour, yeast and brown rice. A bit of a fuss to make them, but you can batch them and freeze the excess and use them in many of his dishes.
He also employs seitan, a wheat protein unsuitable for the gluten intolerant, but otherwise a very good ‘false meat’. Best made at home though, as shop bought seitan can be full of all kinds of additives.
Desserts of course are usually meat free, even in Spain, but he of course employs substitutes for dairy such as almond milk in a coconut and almond crème caramel.
Gonzalo is also a photographer, not a hobbyist with a dSLR he actually studied the craft at university and so the photos in the book are his own and very good too.
With so many tempting dishes, few of which are hard to make, this book is a great gift for any vegan who is beginning to tire of the same old things, or anyone setting out on the vegan path, which should be more of us.
Eating less meat has to be a good thing, although hopefully we will never tire of jamon.
Buy now at Amazon
Publlshed by @grub_street