An unexpected custodianship

I’ve been made “custodian” of my late grandmother’s recipe notebook.

Since it’s in such a frail condition (it’s probably about 80 years old) I transcribed it, to test the recipes without handling the actual booklet.

It’s been quite an interesting, enlightening, and at times truly bemusing experience.

As a family legacy, it’s great to see the echoes of her personality and approach to things. The recipes are succinct and practical—just as I remember her!

As a reflection of its time, it is as truthful as it can be: it was started after the Spanish Civil War, and continued throughout Franco’s dictatorship, so there was a lot of scarcity and most recipes use “luxury” ingredients (such as sugar, eggs or meat) in very small amounts. There are also recipes that aim to mimic or replicate more expensive food and drinks such as puff pastry and brandy but using cheaper and easier to source ingredients.

It is written in Spanish with a load of Valencian loanwords as she lived in a bilingual area (Valencian/Spanish) (and under Franco’s pressure to not speak anything but Spanish). And this was before Valencian underwent its normativisation process, and even modern Spanish has changed so much in the last 70+ years, that some recipes require a bit of researching and consulting in order to interpret them correctly.

The units are another good reflection of its time: pounds, kg, ounces, pesetas (Spain’s pre-euro currency) and cents are mixed indistinctly, so reproducing the recipes is going to be fun!

I had not heard about many of the recipes, and I’ve hardly been able to find any mention to some of them, so at points it does feel like I’ve stumbled upon a long forgotten treasure! It is a marvellous experience 🙂

Finally, my favourite aspect is that most of the recipes are for sweets. EXCELLENT. My type of book!

I will be trying to replicate these recipes over the coming months (possibly years, knowing me…). Stay tuned, as they say…

PS Yes, I briefly talked about this a few weeks ago in Twitter, just in case you’re into the tweetage!

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