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- Saturday, 17 January 2015 13:59 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
1. Tesi: Dear Marta, you are founding member of A Taste of Spain. Can you please tell me about the concept, the idea and background of your company?
Marta: After having worked extensively with Spain’s best food producers, farmers, wineries, food experts and chefs promoting the gastronomy of Spain abroad, in 1999 my colleagues Anne Marie, Fátima and I decided that it was the time to create the first Spanish culinary travel agency for those willing to visit Spain to experience its authentic taste. That’s how A Taste of Spain was born.
Right from the start we decided to keep small enough to focus in offering to our international customers culinary tours and activities designed and organized directly by us, mostly for small private groups, and adapted to each customer’s background and expectations. We top this up with our personalized service and attention to small details that make an experience truly memorable.
After 15 years in business we maintain these same principles, and still enjoy sharing our passion for the foods and gastronomy of our Country with foodie travelers and food professionals from all over the world.
2. Tesi: Your classes and tours are featuring Spanish cuisine. Can you please describe this cuisine in more detail and how you have been inspired to do this
Anne Marie: If I had to highlight just one thing about Spanish cuisine it’d be its huge diversity. This is something that our customers find very surprising for a relatively small Country, and is the result of its long and rich history - influenced by Arabs, Jews, the close relationship with the Americas...
Also, the fact that, still today, food is a key part in the culture and social life of Spaniards, Tapas and the idea of gathering with friends around food is a great example of this.
Besides, Spain has a fantastic diversity of ecosystems, indigenous breeds and climates that make it lead the world production of Olive oil, cured ham or Saffron, produce over 100 different types of cheese and be the Country with the largest vineyard extension.
If this was not enough, for those with a special interest in avant-garde cuisine, travelling to Spain is simply a dream come true.
As food enthusiast we feel very fortunate to live in a Country with such a fascinating culinary scene, not only great restaurants, but fabulous farmers and artisan producers, colourful food markets and culinary festivals, picturesque tapas bars, or unique cooking clubs like the Gastronomic Societies in the Basque Country.
I always say that one can’t taste it all in just one trip to Spain, and it’s completely true - the gastronomy of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia or Galicia are so different that one feels as visiting totally different destinations, even the language changes!
3. Tesi: Spanish food is extremely popular in the world. What are the biggest misunderstandings about Spanish food and which knowledge about that cuisine is largely unknown?
Fátima Silóniz: Stereotypes such as paella and sangria or, more recently, the association of top Spanish chefs with the “molecular” cuisine are big simplifications.
As Anne Marie was pointing out, Spanish cuisine is extremely diverse, actually one of our main goals is to help our customers discover and enjoy the best of each region - from an authentic paella, to the best local tapas and pintxos in each town, together with traditional winter stews, Andalusian cold soups (like gazpacho, salmorejo or ajo blanco), the freshest seafood, great meats from indigenous breeds, word-famous Ibérico ham and charcuterie, delicious cheeses, the greatest variety of Extra Virgin Olive oils, artisan confectionery and home-made desserts... not to mentions wines!
We’ve seen in the past few years how Spain has gained presence as a culinary destination, but there’s still a lot to be “discovered” for most foodie travellers. We feel happy to contribute to expand this knowledge through our work at A Taste of Spain.
4. Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Miguel Ullibarri: Being a Slow Food member, I completely identify with the “Good, Clean and Fair” theme to define what good food is all about.
Of course taste is a must, but that’s not enough, there needs to be values and passion behind it. This is something that I personally learned from the traditional farmers and producers of Ibérico ham, who have kept loyal to ancient rearing and curing methods - avoiding shortcuts that would accelerate the process and reduce cost - but, in exchange, would affect the extraordinary quality of Ibérico ham, and would endanger the sustainability of the beautiful ecosystem where Ibérico pigs keep being raised free range.
This same principle applies to any other food, wine or cuisine, in my experience values and honesty always have a positive effect.
We do our best to help our customers experience intangible aspects like this when they visit Spain with us.
Matthias Tesi Baur
For more information please visit: www.atasteofspain.com
Address: Alonso Cano, 8 - Cádiz (Spain)
Awards: A Taste of Spain is recommended by National Geographic on "Food Journeys of a lifetime" as the local tour operator providing expert knowledge in the Spanish culinary scene
Biography of each Member:
Prior to founding A Taste of Spain in 1999 with Anne Marie and Fátima, Marta worked for well over a decade at ICEX - the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade. There she was responsible of coordinating the promotion of the Spanish gastronomy and gourmet products out of Spain, designing and implementing export strategies for food producers, as well as organizing promotional campaigns and PR activities.
Anne Marie Aznarez
For almost fifteen years Anne Marie was responsible for International Relations at Alimentaria, one of the world’s leading food Exhibitions. Later she headed the Export Department of a major Spanish food association, developing promotional activities and organizing pavilions for international shows around the world. Since 2000, she is fully dedicated to A Taste of Spain, and especially involved in projects related with Catalonia.
Fátima started her international career in Sydney and New York, where she graduated in Marketing and worked in market research and trade marketing. Back in Spain, Fátima worked with Marta at the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade, where she took care of organizing marketing campaigns and culinary events to promote the foods from Spain abroad.
The latest member to join our team, Miguel is a Food Marketing specialist and a reference in the world of Ibérico Ham - as General Manager of the Real Ibérico Consortium, he was responsible for positioning Ibérico Ham in the international gourmet arena. Miguel has lived in Australia and the US, and in the 90’s he occupied prominent positions in the Marketing Departments of multinational companies such as Mars and Kellogg’s.