One reason for this regrettable fact is that Andalusia no longer exists, having disappeared in 1492 after the reconquista. Granted, he could fly to modern Granada, Cordoba, or Seville, once the seat of medieval Islam’s glorious efflorescence, but modern airplane tickets require currency not available in current household accounts.
Or he could repair to the infinitely richer resources of the imagination. For this he need look no further than Food: The History of Taste, a compendium of lively historical essays sublimely illustrated to entice all the senses – sight, sound, taste, smell, and travel.
While Mrs. Henry was out last week, Mr. Henry doctored one of her staple recipes transforming braised chicken into an Andalusian feast, one not only quick and foolproof but remarkably inexpensive, truly a feast for the New Depression.
9 skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion
6 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup raisins
1 cup cooked chick peas
1 cup green olives
¼ cup dry sherry (fino)
pinch of cinnamon
saffron (if desired)
salt and pepper
If plum tomatoes are not in season, a medium-sized can of crushed tomatoes works perfectly well. Quantities are approximate.
In a non-reactive pan brown the thighs in olive oil. Set aside. Add the sliced onion, wilt thoroughly and add the tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes are soft. Add the rest of the ingredients as well as the chicken. Cover and braise slowly for a good 1 ½ hours either on stovetop or in the oven. The thighs will release just enough juices to create a proper braising liquid.
Serve with a crusty bread or over brown rice. A light red like a pinot noir or a Côtes du Rhone provides an appropriate pairing. As with any stew, it’s better the second day.