October 24, 2018
One day you wake up and discover that the dinosaur is still there, on the exact same plate to the left of your place at the table, next to the glass of water. After decades of devoting rivers of ink to cooking and to cooks, you suddenly open your eyes and begin paying attention to one of the oldest living gastronomic species on the planet. One of the first foods made by humans after they went from being hunter-gatherers to settling and growing crops. The great survivor of every age: bread.
And in doing so, you find that one of the most successful branches of gastronomy today is devoted to recovering the flavours, textures and ways of making bread that we had left by the wayside. And not just that. Also discovering ways of making new ones, of modernizing and rediscovering bread as an object of creativity.
Daniel Ramos is an example of this. With his own bakery and two shops called La Cremita, in Chiclana and San Fernando de Cádiz, this artisan baker applies everything he knows to making a wide variety of baked goods that have transformed his tahona (bakery) into a benchmark for many of the most renowned cooks in Andalusia.
His list of specialities gives us a clue as to why he is so successful: picos (very small breadsticks) made with cuttlefish ink or mojama (ling roe), or with krill fritters; regañás (little, squarish crackers) made with red lard, pork scratchings or seaweed; molletes (soft, flat bread rolls); a cereal loaf made with 50% wholemeal flour, left to ferment for twenty hours in a cold room, and takes three days to make; another is with pumpkin, made without water, but includes 85% pumpkin flesh, roasted in a wood oven; another is a turmeric and toasted sunflower-seed loaf. And another, so we have a ‘full house’: a loaf made with seaweed and sea water...
Ramos, besides working at his two bakeries, supplies bread to about twenty restaurants, including Aponiente, and JuanLu Cocina y Alma, among others. His success, as can be deduced from the list of loaves described above, is to have understood how to endow bread – and all of its different shapes and types – with the flavours of traditional Andalusian cooking that is redolent of home kitchens and local bars.
His work definitely has duende (a kind of magic), but not secrets: ‘Bread is nothing but flour, water, salt and time. Slow processes and good ingredients. Our flours are stone ground and contain no additives. We use a sourdough culture and very slow fermentation times. There’s nothing new.’
If you happen to go to Chiclana, Cádiz, this is the GPS information you’ll need: Pedro Vélez, 15; in San Fernando de Cádiz: Rondeñas, 6.
By Miguel Ángel Rincón