There is more than one theory where the flamenco music comes from. One version is that flamenco has Flemish roots.
The legendary emperor Charles the 5th used Flemish body guards who were famous for their exuberant Burgundian behaviour. In those days the gypsy music was much heavier than the Castillian songs, they called it ‘flamenco’. You can read this statement and much more in the fascinating book Duende, “A report about Andalucía, Flamenco and Gypsies”, from the Flemish art historian-writer Ivo Hermans. In the style of a travel story Ivo Hermans exposes different aspects of Southern Spain, like the symbolic of the bullfight and the Semana Santa (Holy Week).
Other interesting items about popular customs, wine and food get lots of attention. The author mainly unravels the complex world of music, singing and dancing. He sketches a traject where that passionate expression is still present in its purest form. Briefly: an ideal supplement to the classic travel guides for those who want to learn more about the deep soul of the Spanish South and a preparation to the scientifical publications of flamencologists. Duende shows a phenomenal historical knowledge and the high personal affinity Hermans’ has with Spain. Famous in Belgium and Holland, unknown elsewhere.
Recently Ivo Hermans has published Arroz, a story about paella and the many variations. Every dish with a past has its own story. As paella has been mutilated on the costas during the last decades, today she is being rehabilated. Thanks to the revaluation of the Spanish cuisine, both the experimental as the traditional. In the arricerías, literal: rice restaurants, the word ‘arroz’ is being elevated to a brand new concept. In this story the cuisine means culture and the preparation and eating the Paella a la marinera or the Arroz serrano becomes a delecious experience.
Hidden in the Flemish student town of Leuven, today Ivo Hermans’ runs ‘De Koerier van Navarra’ (www.kovana.com) - not at all a taverna like we know in Spain but more like a temple of paella and flamenco. Every picture on the walls of ‘De Koerier’ tells a story like from these two great Andalusians: the poet Federico García Lorca and the flamenco singer Camerón de la Isla. Only open three nights a week, Ivo and his partner Caroline, make the best Paella in the country, strictly according its original receipt from the area of Valencia. Later in the evening you may enjoy a flamenco guitar or singing, sometimes cante jondo, and feel the real duende like you won’t easily find in big cities in Spain.
Every weekend ‘De koerier’ is heavy booked from flamenco aficionado’s to business people who are fed up with sophisticated places. It is unique and affordable.
Other books from Ivo Hermans: ‘Revista de Flamencología’ and ‘Masks of the Sun’ a story about wine and stones. All titles are edited by EPO in Belgium – www.epo.be