Interview with Miquel Ŕngel Barrios, writer of the book "Ses cuineres de Binissalem" The cooks of Binissalem

“Everything we do not share, dies that is why I wanted to write this book.”

by Verónica Rosselló.

Miguel Ŕngel Barrios (Palma 1975) is a writer who is interested into reading, cooking and travelling. Thanks to his work as a director of marketing in a multinational company, he was in more than 250 towns and cities in the whole world. He is a lover of the cuisine, the recipes and the travels. This director with his relaxed look, his good communication and his open-minded character wrote his book “Ses cuineres de Binissalem”) (The cooks of Binissalem”) of more than 200 pages during the different flights and the time he spent with the 24 cooks. These cooks told him her recipes and the different histories.

The book of Miguel Ŕngel was sold more than 1500 times during the first 5 days in May and those, who already have it, cannot stop sending him new photos and recipes.

- Miguel, the idea of the book was developed how?
-The idea already was developed two years ago, on the basis of the principle that everything, that us accompanies, dies. I was there, when I thought about writing the recipes of Mallorca on paper and to distribute them. Occasionally, we call our mothers to give us a desired recipe. But what will happen, when those will not be one day. That means that a family tradition will die, when not having the recipe. Therefore, I found it important to distribute those recipes and to bring them to the town. In Binissalem, there are many young people, but also old ones. On my mother’s dead, she was replaced by the neighbor and this veto has expanded my selection of 24 cooks, all anonym, none of them educated cook and all love their house.

- How was the experience between so many cooking pots?
-First, I sent them questionnaires with 10 or 12 questions, but later I realized that it did not work. That is why I decided to cook with all of them their unique dish. During this presence I understood to quantify with them what means „una mica“ (a little bit), “una espolda” (a pinch) or the famous (Toda la harina que se beba) (to join flour until the mass is fine). I was at home at a 92 years old woman with a very good sense, I asked her how much oil I will need and she answered me: “a wineglass of oil”. I fixed it and realized that she is talking about a wine glass of 20 deciliter. I was there, when I realized that there have been many changes, which are not shown in the kitchen.

- Which one is the best recipe?
- Because of that, what I tried, I realized that thee cooks are remembering her recipes but that they put an ingredient on the one day, but on the other not. The good recipe is ours, which we prepare and eat at home. Cooking is a learning process because when we are kids, we like some things and when we are adults we like almost everything. While teaching and cultivating the palate we manage that we like paella at home. Possibly, we also like the Paella of a grand cool, but when coming home and eating the paella of our mom, we remember our childhood and that is why we thing that it is the best paella of the entire world and that is what the book wants to teach.

- How were the recipes of the book developed?
- Those women own many histories that they explain to you, because the grandma’s art of cooking is only the best, if it is the same than ours. One of the factors, which make it that their art of cooking is the best, is the time. A sofrito (sauce of oil and onions) that has been cooked by the highest temperature for 5 minutes is not the same than a sofrito that has been cooked for 15 minutes by a weak temperature by those women. I realized that they are leading a social life in the kitchen, sometimes, the neighbor is coming in, a little later, there is coming and going another person. After a time, I can confirm that they finish cooking with love. I learnt that they love talking about their life, next to rescuing the recipes they are no longer using. But, they do not talk as old, irritating women who talk about war; they are talking about the different histories of their dishes, they are preparing. It was as if they are emptying themselves to fill someone else. Those women not only shared their recipes with me, they also told me the history of their recipes. They showed me that they are grand cooks, but not because of their knowledge, because they show that they can cook a great dish with that what they have. This is the grand art of cooking in Binissalem.

- When writing the book, what did you learn of your experience?
- To write a book was an exercise of a comparison between that what we are owning and needing and that what we owned and needed, and I do not talk about the change between my big car and a carriage. A usefull tradition should not die. While cooking the recipes, the women explained me, why they do what. Every recipe of the 250 recipes owns his own history even if every woman says that hers is the best.

- You are working in a multinational company and writing this book, how could you concentrate yourself despite all those travels?
- Well, I am the director of Marketing of a multinational company, but that does not mean that I do not have my private life. When I am here, I cook, it is my passion, I love cooking, cooking is social, I cook with my children, with my wife. I do not live another life than other people. All this I do thanks to my wife because I am travelling to Asia and every week to America and I have a jetlag or insomnia often. During the hours of insomina I am writing. It happened that I was writing a recipe while flying over the Iran. This book was not established as a book, it seems as if my memory made it as a book to share the recipes. The things need their space and this one cried to become a book.

- Is cooking therapeutical?
- Yes, but it is not only turning off, it is also connecting with something we are, connecting to the people surrounding, one is talking while transferring the raw alimentary into a dish. One is talking while transferring the ingredients into food, into life. We are, what we cook. This book is a praise for that, what was, but what will be kept, a living art of cooking and that, what the cooks of Binissalem do.

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