I have a passion for cooking. Sometimes the concoction might not quite match the inspiration, but that is, at least for the cook, part of the fun. In any case, my family has a fortunate and frequently demonstrated capacity to bring me back to earth. The questions from my wife—“What exactly were you trying to make?”— and, even worse, from my kids—“Can we please order in pizza instead?”— certainly serve to ground my overblown culinary ambitions in bitter reality. In that type of cooking environment, one can imagine the unique combination of culinary enthusiasm and trepidation I faced a couple of years ago when my old friend and famous MIT technological innovation guru, Eric von Hippel, came to stay with us.
Eric’s visit and two very enjoyable family trips to Spain reignited our already considerable enthusiasm for tapas. We purchased several tapas recipe books, which were fine enough, but sadly did not really quite live up to our expectations or our memories of the real thing. We had experimented to improve on the recipe book dishes for a number of dinner parties and were confi dent that we had a few successes under our belts. Tapas had the additional advantage that if one dish proved to be overly experimental, there would be other dishes from which to choose.
I served the tapas for lunch and they were much appreciated. However the one sad exception was my much-prized pan con tomate. The recipe had worked well enough but the tomatoes had that disappointing lack of flavor that seems to be the inevitable byproduct of the long and winding road between the field and the supermarket.