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The Galician who loved cooking

Cunqueiro developed a somewhat forgotten literary resource, which is to make the description of food, more than the enunciation of a recipe, a transit through which the story and its characters eating, are diluted in the same flow: literature.

Robert Diaz. Peninsula 360 Press.
Cunqueiro developed a somewhat forgotten literary resource, which is to make the description of food, more than the enunciation of a recipe, a transit through which the story and its characters eating, are diluted in the same flow: literature.

Álvaro Cunqueiro (1911-1981) is an unjustly forgotten writer, but no less erudite and entertaining for that. The delight of the self-confidence with which he confronts his readings makes him get out of the dungeons in which political correctness has put him, his dazzling and passionate effect where the most peregrine topics could occur and juxtapose with historical themes and famous people, related to European lineages, fratricidal wars, extravagant customs, combined with a culinary knowledge with which he created his own microcosm, make this writer, more than a way of writing, a category. A state of enlightenment that, for those who do not know his political affiliation, causes an almost automatic admiration for his themes and his inventive way of approaching them.

Cunqueiro, born in Mondoñedo, Galicia, Spain, did not believe in inspiration. He was a writer who, in one fell swoop, wrote what he was committed to. He said that, if after that lapse, the work was not finished, it would be difficult, in the end, to see it finished. He said that one did not know for whom he was writing and, sometimes, he did not know where the characters would end up, because patience, more than a virtue, is one of the main tools a writer has.

In addition to being a novelist, poet and playwright, Cuaqueiro developed a somewhat forgotten literary resource: to make the description of food, more than the enunciation of a recipe, a transit through which the story and its characters eating are diluted in the same flow: literature. He was an expert gastronome and made of his narrations about food a true delight; we leave here a small historical chronicle about "The Strawberries of Brittany and the Blackberries", from his book "The Christian Cuisine of the West", page 45:

"Brittany strawberries, Plougastel strawberries, have a history. They are Chilean and that is why they are called fraises du Chili. They were brought back in 1712 by a naval officer named Fraize, on his return from a voyage. They are short like amorodos ?strawberries?, tasty and fresh. Officer Freize brought from Brazil a parrot and beautiful orchids. He lived in Lenvoual, near Plougastel, and passed through one of the Breton tenories of the 18th century. Freize himself taught the Bretons to eat strawberries with cream, a dessert he had learned in Valparaiso, in the house of a lady who was a thunder ham and whom the Spanish sailor kissed and embraced "Now turn!" (sic). The English buy strawberries from Plougastel for their jams, as they buy blackberries from September for the black berry jam. The Bretons like blackberries with sugar, cinnamon and wine from Barsac; the best, a sweet orange Château-Coutet."

Cunqueiro added fictitious onomastic indexes at the end of his books in order to complete the profiles of the characters and that, what he had not said, remained under the wake of historical fiction. His books on food, like his appraisals and evaluations of the most unusual and pilgrim dishes, filled the pages of the Spanish newspapers of the post-war period.

When he was asked what Galicia was, he replied that it was, for hundreds of years, the end point of the known earth: the Finisterri, beyond the rocks of its cliffs ?the point of the world in Galicia that the ancients thought was the end of the world? there was nothing but the dark ocean, with abysses where giant fish swam and ate their own tails, and when the Romans arrived to conquer those lands, they thought they were facing the Lethe, ?that river where Dante said it crosses to the beyond? because of the amazing landscape, but it was Decimus Junius Brutus, who led the expedition, who reminded them that they were there only to conquer and the soldiers woke up from their reverie.

The Galicians -he said- are always on the defensive, they have an enormous love for their land -surely there must be inhabitants of Galicia who have still owned their small lands for two thousand years-, being that end of the world and the harassment under which they lived, surely made them react to become ironic and rascals capable of making anyone dizzy with their verbiage.

A fact: In 2015, the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Camarena, tried to change the name of a street named after him, in accordance with the Law of Historical Memory; the president of the Galician academic institution, Xesús Alonso Montero replied: "honor and glory of the Hispanic Letters of the 20th century, he was a friend admired by many people of the Republican ideological panorama and a good man who never, in his intimate condition, identified himself with fascist violence; before and after 1936".

Peninsula 360 Press
Peninsula 360 Presshttps://peninsula360press.com
Study of cross-cultural digital communication

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