Eating Asturias

From Eating Asturias, the Encyclopedia of Asturian Gastronomy
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Now with 153 articles and counting.

A landscape of mountain peaks along a rural road in Cabrales, Asturias
An average July afternoon in rural Asturias.

Welcome to Eating Asturias. A website dedicated to bringing the best of Asturian food culture to the English-speaking world. Equal parts cookbook, travel guide, and ethnography.

Eating Asturias is a project that explores, documents, translates, and studies the food cultures of Asturias. It is an independent ethnography of food and eating in Asturias. It is produced from an outsider perspective. While I live in Asturias, I did not grow up here.

What do people in Asturias eat? Why do they eat those things? How do they feel about their food? What foods do they no longer eat, and why? How do people’s memories of those “forgotten” foods influence their current food choices and attitudes?

Here is where you can learn about the food and food culture of one of the most interesting regions of Spain. It is a place quite unlike other regions of Spain. It consumes far more cider than anywhere else in Spain (and more per capita than anywhere in the world). It produces more cheeses in a smaller area than anywhere else in the world.

Who am I?

My name is Jon, and I’ve spent almost my entire professional life around food. I first began working in restaurants at 15, and over the next 20 years held pretty much every conceivable job in food service; from dishwasher to executive chef. On my first visit to Asturias I fell in love, and now I live here full time.

I personally fell in love with the food culture of Asturias because it reminded me of my home region, the southern Appalachian Mountains. Most Asturian food has a resonance with regional American cooking that you will recognize from the first recipe you try.

Think of me as your American guide who can shepherd you though unique, authentic Asturian food and cultural experiences and tours.

When I moved here in 2017, there was precious little information about the region in the English language. Disappointed by that fact, I made the decision to remedy the situation. The result of that decision is this website. It is meant to be the most comprehensive collection of English-language information on the food culture and food history of Asturias.

What Do I Do?

I Document. First, and foremost, I am interested in the unsung and endangered. I am constantly in a mad scramble to document things before they slip away into oblivion without record. I am interested in what is being cooked, has been cooked, and will be cooked, by all of the people who make up Asturias. Immigrant food is often the best way to see what is universal in a local food culture. For that reason alone, it should be more closely studied. I am not interested in official lists (or even worse, tourist office lists) of what is or is not the correct or authentic Asturian cuisine. To be honest, I find this kind of conservatism misguided, and very boring. I am just as interested in Asturian style pizza or kebab as I am in the ur-fabada.

I Provide Context. All meals and all dishes need context. And context is no longer merely place-historical. Internet-connected post-modern societies cross the boundaries of their inherited food traditions constantly. This trans-cultural food knowledge can create or accompany new behavioral patterns, new food preferences, and new eating patterns.

I Eat & Drink. I am, as Raymond Sokolov once called himself, a “gastro-ethnological reporter”. While I do not review restaurants, I do tell stories of them. I point out the places, and dishes, that I think are worth a visitor’s time. My desire is to reward good clean cooking.

I Cook. It is not enough to merely passively consume Asturias. I contribute to Asturian food culture through original recipes. While working within the milieu of contemporary Asturian food, I give things my own, immigrant, twist. Partially that is to adapt things to an American kitchen. Partially it is because I feel a need to imprint my own mark on the collective.

How Does the Site Work?

I say that this site is equal parts Travel Guide, Cookbook, and Ethnography. I try to blend the three components together as best I can. However, I recognize that some people only have an interest in one part of the site or another. So, I try to provide easy ways to find what you are interested in.

The Recipe Index contains my recipes, and my writing about those recipes. I provide both context and a trans-cultural perspective on each recipe I post. Like much regional American food, Asturian food is easy to cook, homey, and hearty. It’s basically perfect for home cooking, and the majority of Asturian restaurants pride themselves on being home-cooking types of places that serve exactly what people want to eat. If you want to learn about how people cook in Asturias and reproduce those dishes at home, this is where you should look.

The Food Culture section contain all of my writing about the gastronomy and drinking culture of Asturias. This is the bulk of the ethnographic portion of the site. If you want to know more about food in Asturias and what to eat on your visit here, these sections are for you.

The Visit Asturias section contains information useful to people coming to visit Asturias. If you are considering a trip here, this is where to start. I write about the cities, towns, villages, and regions of Asturias. I also provide guides to the artisan food producers in Asturias, and a calendar of food related happenings. And, of course, I offer guided tours in English of literally anything I write about on this website. If you are looking for information to plan a trip to Asturias, dive in here.

Additional Content

I also have some academic pretensions, and I indulge them here. There is a further menu, available behind the triple line / hamburger menu button. It houses additional tools and ways to interact with the site.

  • An annotated Bibliography of all of the sources I use in my research.
  • An old-school Blogroll. In addition to the bibliography, I get quite a few leads and tidbits from bloggers in Asturias and around the world. These are the ones I actually subscribe to RSS feeds from. Remember RSS?
  • A list of suppliers of Asturian and Asturian-style food products in the United States

My blog contains purely personal musings on living in Asturias. I moved here in 2017, and now own a small farm in the hills above the Nalón valley. I occasionally write a bit about life as actually lived in Asturias for an immigrant from the United States. These articles will often contain generalizations about Asturians, Spaniards, Europeans, or Americans. All of these generalizations are tendentious, unfair, and prejudiced.

I additionally post about things tangential to this website at Mastodon.

Come Visit Asturias with Me

Here on Eating Asturias I am going to share my Asturias with you. A place full of cider and beef, apples and seafood, sausages and craft beer. And if you fall in love with it like I have, you can come to Asturias and I will take you around to all my favorite places and stuff you full of good things to eat and drink.

I am available during most months of the year to help with vacation questions, planning, or personalized tours. Anything from answering a question or two all the way to a week-long culinary tour of Asturias with translation services and one-of-a-kind experiences. If you are interested in more information, please get in contact with me.

Read These First

Now that you know who I am and what I am trying to do, it’s time to get started on your journey into Asturian cuisine. I have compiled a few of my favorite informational posts in one place. You can’t go wrong starting with any of these:

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