In Other Words

The Victim’s Fortune is the extraordinary tale of how some of Europe’s biggest businesses ended up paying billions of dollars in compensation to the Nazi’s victims.

It tells the story of a half-principled and half-rogue group of activists, lawyers and officials, who traveled the world to pursue a full accounting of the plunder of World War Two. Before the unspeakable events of the camps, there was a systematic campaign to steal the fortunes – the property, bank accounts, art and labor – of those who would die. For half a century, little was known about this plunder, or about the stonewalling and cover-up which confronted the survivors.

As the truth emerged, along with huge new sums of cash, the moral crusade descended into petty squabbling. Almost lost amid the threats, tears and abuse, were the painful and complex questions about justice and how to put a price on suffering.

The Victim’s Fortune was the result of several years of reporting with my co-author at the Financial Times, John Authers. It was published in 2002 by HarperCollins.

After the fraught story of The Victim’s Fortune, it was time for a book to celebrate life, family, friends – and food.

Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America was a long-planned project with one of my best friends in Washington: Spanish chef José Andrés.  José was a neighbor and we would go shopping together at a local farmer’s market on Sundays, then return to his home to cook for our families. At the end of the day, he would knock on my door for help writing stories and columns for food magazines. It seemed like a fair trade to me. After a few of these stories, I suggested we collaborate on a book.

José was and is Spain’s unofficial culinary ambassador: an evangelist for modern and traditional Spanish cooking. With his wildly successful restaurants in the DC area and LA, tapas seemed the right way to introduce Spanish dishes to American cooks. The key was to make it accessible. We wanted to use everyday ingredients that you could buy at your local supermarket (supplemented by a couple of uniquely Spanish products). So there’s a chapter on tomatoes; another on eggs; another on potatoes.

Nothing too fancy or complex, but everything works outstandingly well even for home cooks with little experience and technique. Believe me. I tested everything in this book many times over.

Tapas was published in 2005 by Clarkson Potter.

Tapas was too successful.

We were soon talking to PBS producers about how to take Spanish cooking to public television. The result was a 26-part show called Made In Spain, with an accompanying book.

This time, instead of small dishes, we looked at bigger plates, and organized them around ingredients with regional themes, just like the show. So rice dishes sit alongside a short explanation of the food and ingredients of Valencia, for instance. Each section features stories about regional cooking and produce, often drawn from the unusual experiences of shooting so many shows on the road in Spain.

Again, this is simple, fresh and easy food. Or as we call it in the subtitle, Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen. The book was published in 2008 by Clarkson Potter.

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