The Latin American Cookbook (signed copy)
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Gathering all of Latin American cooking into a single book is a mighty task, spanning two continents, 20 countries, multiple languages, and in the case of this book, 600 recipes. We are particularly impressed by its coverage of smaller countries whose cooking is not well documented in English.
Author Virgilio Martinez is the chef of Central, a restaurant in Lima, Peru, known for its focus on local ingredients, and his respect for food traditions and culture is evident throughout this 432-page book. Opposite many handsome photographs of prepared dishes are densely packed pages of recipes which note the country from which they are derived, their local names, typical styles of serving, and often tidbits of folklore and history.
Most recipes are arranged by major ingredient (e.g., corn, roots and tubers, pork, native meats and insects), allowing a reader to explore how tamales, for instance, vary from Mexico to Nicaragua to Colombia, where the tamales from "Tolima region are set apart by their use of cooked rice to make a masa that can pocket a mix of meat and vegetables."
We are not always a fan of large, sprawling compendiums for regional or national cuisines, but in this case, a significant contribution has been made.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.