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Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (2013)

by Maricel E. Presilla

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1071195,538 (4.11)2
The co-owner of two Latin restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey, presents 500 recipes from the Latin world ranging from Mexico to Argentina and all the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean including adobos, sofritos, empanadas, tamales, ceviches, moles and flan.
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Some time ago I was in a bookstore, and happened to notice a shelf of marked down books. Just by chance, you understand. Anyway, one of the books was a big cookbook in English of Latin American food. [Gran Cocina Latina]. Turns out the Cuban author studied medieval history in Spain and the USA, and has travelled all over Latin America, eating and cooking as she goes. If you happened to live in a US city with a big Latino population and had a lot of time (and sometimes money) not to mention a big family to eat the results, you might be able to cook from this book. In general, I can't get the ingredients, I can't stand in the kitchen that long, and there are only two of us eating. I have been fascinated by her description, but have not felt like cooking from this book.

Now after over 400 pages (still over 400 to go) I have actually made something. The Empanada Gallega de Chorizo is not something I am likely to ever make again, but it tasted good, and looked wonderful.

The cookbook is fascinating because it is so wide ranging within the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. On the other hand, so often she talks about the common cooking themes that come from medieval Spain and were adapted to American ingredients, but maintained that Iberian heritage. Strange, usually it is cooking methods that I recognize from my (New) English heritage, from living in India as a child AND from the Austrian cuisine I have learned more recently. Let's take the empanada. This is a great idea the Spanish had. Take dough, wrap it around a filling, and cook it. But it certainly isn't just the Spanish who figured that out.

This book is certainly fascinating from an anthropological point of view, but it is hardly a usable cookbook for most people. For some people of Latin heritage it might induce home sickness or nostalgia. I'm just not convinced that it needs over 800 pages for that. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Feb 15, 2020 |
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The co-owner of two Latin restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey, presents 500 recipes from the Latin world ranging from Mexico to Argentina and all the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean including adobos, sofritos, empanadas, tamales, ceviches, moles and flan.

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