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Second course: Brit chef Rick Stein brings Spanish food to Spain – and the locals love it

Author:   |  February 9th, 2018

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Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes show is the most popular BBC export to Spain.

Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes show is the most popular BBC export to Spain.

A few years ago, erstwhile British TV chef Jamie Oliver caused a bit of a stir in Spain with his controversial take on that classic Spanish dish, paella.

Oliver’s crime? Suggesting adding chorizo to the pot to spice things up a bit. The Essex boy quickly learned that, while Spaniards are incredibly easy-going, they are fiercely protective of their cuisine

And rightly so. Spanish food has been simmering on the world stage for a while, and was brought to the boil a few years ago by celebrated chef Ferran Adrià, whose El Bulli restaurant was regularly ranked as the world’s best.

Spanish food can be simple, complicated, and everything in between, with every Spanish grandmother worth her salt able to rustle up something that will attract the entire family like a moth to a flame.

However, being adept at adapting and modernising its food, Spain has managed to retain tradition while also embracing new ideas.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rising popularity of Rick Stein, the British TV chef who made a name for himself with his Mediterranean Escapes programme.

Stein’s schtick is to approach new recipes with an open mind, and apply his curious taste-buds and well-trained chef’s instinct to certain dishes.

And according to the BBC, this TV show was the most-watched BBC export to Spain in 2017. Of course, the proportion of viewers who are, in fact, British expats could well be quite high.

But it is also very likely that Spanish viewers enjoy seeing their classic dishes given a modern makeover.

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