October 22, 2018
Kiko Moya and Vicky Hayward: Historical cooking
If I were to mention arroz de grassa (rice in stock and pine-kernel milk), burete (green soup with meat), or sweet artichokes, your average foodie, who goes to restaurants with the goal of collecting new eatery openings, would think that they are the most avant-garde dishes of a creative cook they tend to gush about. However, these are dishes that appear in the iconic book Nuevo arte de la cocina española (New Art of Cookery: A Spanish Friar’s Kitchen Notebook) by Juan Altamiras, considered to be the first written text to compile and offer recipes and the gastronomic know-how of his day.
We are talking about a book from 1745. This does, of course, make you think. This text has been recovered and republished by the famous British Hispanist, Vicky Hayward, a lover of Spanish gastronomy and who is, without a doubt, one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to our oldest cook book.
At a time when the avant-garde in gastronomy is somewhat dated, and current trends take us back to our origins, to homely recipes, recognizable cooking and bygone flavours, we must reflect on whether we truly know what bygone cooking is, and where the origins of these recipes lie.
In this work of recovery, Vicky has found someone who perfectly comprehends the importance of understanding the historical essence of our gastronomy. Meet Kiko Moya, an authentic cook who is at the helm of the restaurant, Cocentaina, in inland Alicante, that has held two Michelin stars since 2016.
Thanks to its subtlety, language and preparation, Kiko’s cuisine is one that excites. An unpretentious cuisine, one that is intelligent, serene, where much thought goes into each stock, every aspect, and every ingredient. This is where Kiko dusts off old books, chats with the locals and tries to reach conclusions, ponders techniques, produce, and finds answers. Undoubtedly, the work of this cook means that his restaurant is today on the radar of any enthusiast in the world, and is a place of pilgrimage for those wanting to understand Alicante’s authentic inland cuisine and the historical gastronomy of our ancestors. Because we all know that in Alicante they have some of the best rice in the world; but what was paella in 1745 like? Did it exist? Was there anything at all similar back then?
In the meantime, buy Vicky’s book and take a look at it on your way to Cocentaina. Because Kiko Moya’s cuisine answers any question with facts.
By Guillermo Dávila
Photo: Oriol Nieto