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- Publié sur Amazon.com
This is clearly Jeffrey Weiss' first book, because he puts his heart and soul into it.
Not just a collection of recipes, this is an introduction to the pigs that are native to different regions of Spain, to the way they are butchered, to the delicious things that are made from them, and to the people he met, worked with, ate with, and hung out with there, every step along the way. With his words and the photographs, he tries to capture the history, the different cultures – all that goes into the "soul" of a cuisine.
Professional and serious meatheads will appreciate that the recipes give the quantities as weights and not dry measures and that all his recipes are based on what he calls the "charcutier's percentage." In other words, he models his approach on what professional bakers do, where everything that goes into a dough is given as a percentage of the total amount of flour, which is always 100%. In his recipes, the basic unit is 1kg of meat (2.2 lbs), and this system makes it easy to scale the recipe up or down from there. This approach may be unfamiliar to most home cooks, but if they think about it and try it, they will quickly find it liberating. You no longer need an exact quantity of meat for the recipe to work. Start with what you have or want to make, and calculate all the other ingredients based on the percentage.
The book is not perfect, as a few things got missed. He has some unusual recipes for sausages that contain fair amounts of potato and pumpkin (pp. 317-21) that I really want to try, but, after telling you how to cook the potato and pumpkin, he neglects to tell you when or how to mix it in. But in a book this good, a few oversights can easily be forgiven.
Finally, this a book that does not hide the author's personality; it features it. And, like many a chef de cuisine, he comes off as brash and opinionated. Perhaps he's compensating for his "past life in spandex and sequins" as an elite figure skater (check out video clips on youtube; he's great!), but whatever the reason, if you're not into the whole, hard-workin, hard-livin, macho butcher persona, it may put you off. Personally, I don't mind. It's a book about HIS immersion into the world of Spanish charcuteria and what he brought back from it, and if he tried to efface his personality, the book would be poorer for it.