Twenty years have gone by since I read Spanish classic Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (ack!), and while I may not remember what this hapless knight ate on his travels, I do remember thinking that most of it sounded good.
The cuisine of Castile-La Mancha, the native land of Don Quixote, is still as appealing as ever to me. It is a cuisine replete with the intense and hearty flavors of cured meats, stews, game and garlic; as well as delicate (and intense) Manchego cheeses, spices (saffron!) and honey. This is also the region that produces more wine than any where else in the world, providing assurance that whatever you eat in La Mancha will surely be accompanied by a glass of it.
I have traveled to Castile-La Mancha countless times and, even when just passing through, I always make sure my trips to coincide with lunchtime. But when I want to take the flavors of this region into my kitchen, I often turn to Janet Mendel‘s excellent cookbook Cooking from the Heart of Spain (William Morrow, 2006) – the first cookbook on this region’s cuisine to be published in English.