Cookbooks. Somehow a few get added to our collection every month, and no one knows how. So we have a lot of cookbooks. Some might say too many. Others might be so awestruck that they try to quantify if (scientifically speaking, our collection is precisely one metric fucktonne). We refer to some more than others, but always enjoy exploring new ideas. Jumping around between cookbooks can become a tad chaotic though, so in an attempt to focus our attention a bit better, we decided to stick to one book per month to properly try out.
Our book for February was A Bite of Latin America – A Culinary Diary, by Susie Chatz-Anderson.
As the name suggests, the book follows Susie and her husband along their travels through Latin America. Being fed up with their “normal” office jobs, they decided to pack up everything, put it in storage, and got on the first plane to Mexico (must be nice…).
The book is divided into sections based on the countries they visited, including Mexico, the Central America area, Peru, and Argentina amongst others. Obviously, the ingredients used in these countries might not be freely available in South Africa, not to mention techniques we won’t be familiar with, but Susie manages to bring everything into the South African context. Well done!
(As an aside, go check out Azteca Mexican Foods – they have some awesome imported Mexican and South American products.)
On to the food! We tried out a few of the recipes, and all of them were easy to follow, the ingredients were (mostly) freely available, and the results were delicious. While Mexican might be somewhat fashionable lately, the recipes in this book will give you so many options other than tacos and burritos. It really was a lot of fun going through this book!
Some of the recipes we tried were Fajitas de Pollo, and Caldo de Pollo (Chicken, lime, and rice soup), both from Mexico, Costillas de Cerdo Borrachos (drunken pork chops) from Nicaragua, and Ceviche de Pescado from Peru. My favourite was the classic Quesadillas – mostly because it brought back memories of having it at the Spur in Harrismith as a youngling…
This book really entices you to try out foods outside of your comfort zone. It does this without trying to intimidate; rather easing you different ways of enjoying familiar ingredients. It’s great for flavourful weeknight dinners, as well as lavish Sunday spreads. In all, a great introduction to the foods of Latin America.