Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind is a fun, suspensful and rollicking novel which at its heart is about the love of books and storytelling. The novel was originally written and Spanish and translated. I usually like to read novels in their original language, but this translation was great and felt really natural. The book takes place in Barcelona and tells the story of Daniel, a lonely son of a bookdealer, as his obsession with a mysterious novel takes him on a dark journey as he grows from boy into man. The Barcelona in the book is a moody, damaged place still unsure of its future after civil war and fascism. Food does have a place in the book, mainly as the subject of desire and enthusiasm of Daniel's strange and amusing friend - Fermin. Fermin provides the heart of the book as well as its comic relief. He has a big appetite and often requires Daniel to stop on their adventures for a bite to eat. They seem to eat a lot of spanish ham sandwiches, but that seemed to boring for the blog (and I doubt I could get my hands on real spanish ham). So I went with a traditional spanish tapas, codfish fritters, made with salt cod. These were easy, though you must plan ahead since the cod must be soaked for several days before cooking.
No book today, later this week I will be posting a review and recipe for The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, but for now, here is some Super Bowl appropriate (and winter appropriate) simple beef chili.
I really loved Bloodroot by Amy Greene. It was totally engrossing and transported me to the world of Bloodroot mountain in Appalachia. The book is eerie, disturbing and beautifully written. The book takes place on Bloodroot mountain, which was named after the rare flower that grows there. According to wikipedia, it is a perennial flowering plant, which has a white flower and dark roots that when you cut open, ooze a dark red colored sap. We learn about bloodroot early in the book and the dark underside of the bloodroot serves to set the dark tone of the book. I had a hard time deciding what to make, red velvet cake seemed to upbeat, beet ravioli seemed so removed from the Tennessee setting of the book. So in the end I decided on making some corn muffins with a hidden pocket of dark fruit of the forest preserves. These were a super quick and easy recipe that would be especially good in the summer when you can use fresh corn.