FIONA Dunlop is a British food and travel writer, blogger and photographer who has globe-trotted for decades from successive bases in Paris and London.
Andalucía has long been a much loved destination where she often retreats to her house amid the olive groves. After writing travel-guides and features on art, design and travel, her passion for food gained the upper hand. The publication of New Tapas (2002) followed, then The North African Kitchen (Medina Kitchen) and Mexican Modern (Viva la Revolucion!). As well as contributing to the national press (FT, Telegraph, Independent, Guardian) and magazines, she has authored National Geographic’s guides to Spain and Portugal and worked as a guest lecturer on their expeditions.
Her latest book, Andaluz: A Food Journey through Southern Spain, contains 304 pages of recipes, flashes of landscapes, life and people across Andalucia. The book is available on Amazon now. Read an introductory chapter, which chronicles Fiona’s love affair with Andalucia here, ahead of the publication of exclusive recipes from the book in the next issue of the Olive Press on Wednesday:
3. ANDALUCIA & ME
The first time I ever sighted Andalucía was back in the 1970s. As you did in that free-thinking, free-moving, post-hippie era, I set off with two fellow students in a battered 2CV to rattle all the way from Montpellier, where we were fine-tuning our French studies, south to Marrakesh – about 2000km. As soon as we had cut through the dramatic Sierra Morena, the gateway to Andalucía from the monotonous plains of La Mancha, I was transfixed. Here was a wild, grandiose landscape, a universe of elemental, raw escarpments either glowing with chalky limestone or soaking up the light with flinty shale, interspersed with carpets of olive-trees or lush ravines. It was magical.
Crunching gears asthmatically, our primitive car bumped around the deserted bends before we lost our way, but eventually reached Algeciras and the car-ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar. Andalucía’s rolling sierra studded with whitewashed fincas and goats, its roadside ventas, palm-trees, donkeys, fried fish and the gut-rot red wine of the time all left an indelible mark. It felt almost as exotic as Morocco, that mythical neighbour where the haunting muezzin sent shivers down my spine as mysterious hooded figures in djellabas loped through the night shadows.
There we reveled in tangy tagines or sizzling lamb kebabs grilled on braziers as well as mountainous platters of couscous. Our first sampling of the this grain came after a breakdown in the Rif mountains where we were warmly served a banquet by the Number One Widow of the village before bedding down on divans in her front room. Young and impressionable, I never forgot this first taste of either Morocco or Andalucía – or was it both: Al-Ándalus?
Published by Interlink Books, USA www.interlinkbooks.com
Keep up to date with Fiona’s latest work at www.fionadunlop.com, Facebook: fionadunlopfoodandtravel and Instagram: @ffdunlop