Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook
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For a limited time we have bookplates signed by Illyanna Maisonet.
In Illyana Maisonet’s compelling account, the food of Puerto Ricans outside Puerto Rico has its own identity, inseparable from its roots on the island and just as clearly a part of wherever it is those cooks are living now.
Her bracing and frank book—not a good choice for those who are shy about four-letter words or anticolonial politics—includes both recipes from the island’s different regions as well as her own Dungeness crab guanimes, little dumplings that reflect her upbringing in California. There’s a Puerto Rican-inflected version of Laotian laab that comes from a certain time in Maisonet’s life, and a rolled cake known as brazo gitano that swaps Sacramento Valley cherries for guava.
Certain core recipes do appear: lechón, for instance, the spitted pig roasted over an open fire, is very well documented. And pasteles, using a dough made from tropical tubers and bananas, though when it comes to wrapping them, Maisonet’s headnotes provide a clear example of how, as she says, “Puerto Ricans don’t tend to be cerebral about their food but rather emotional.”
Rather than a systematic attempt to survey the Puerto Rican diaspora, Diasporican uses Maisonet’s family, friends, and acquaintances to capture a representative diversity, a kind of synecdoche in which the experiences of hard-working cooks and their stories bring to life the cooking of millions who have left the island. There is no attempt to be definitive so much as a demonstration that there are many other stories left to be told.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.