Spanish culinary nationalization emerged as a topic of discussion in the 1870s, at the same time as attempts to unify the country were being made in law and narrated in fiction. At this time, the Spanish foodscape was dominated by French cuisine, which was fashionable among Spain's elite. Indeed, French or French-inspired cookery books saturated the culinary text market. Traditionally, the Spanish nationalist culinary project has been viewed as the exclusive domain of Mariano Pardo de Figueroa (Dr Thebussem) and Dionisio Pérez (‘Post-Thebussem’), two important journalists who attempted, to differing degrees, to codify a national cuisine for Spain that would ultimately become more popular than the existing French-influenced Spanish cuisine. Pivotal to the agendas of these two culinary nationalists were traditional regional cuisines; perhaps because of the way in which they favoured culinary diversity over culinary assimilation, late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Spanish culinary nationalization has received relatively little critical attention. Indeed, both the enhanced visibility of French cuisine and France's prestige as a culinary powerhouse meant that the highly centralist nature of French culinary nationalization was seen as a benchmark for the process of nationalization. The inherent plurality of the vision for Spanish cuisine in Dr Thebussem's and Post-Thebussem's texts was thus taken as a sign, perhaps, that their project did not represent culinary nationalization in its purest sense.
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