Leith's Latin-American Cooking

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9780762407705: Leith's Latin-American Cooking

Book by Sisti, Valeria Vieira

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Review:

Valeria Sisti grew up in Brazil. She trained professionally at Leith's School of Food and Wine in London, where she now teaches. In Leith's Latin-American Cooking, she explains how all the influences that make Latin America perhaps the ultimate culinary melting pot came together. As Sisti shows, appreciating the flavors and variety of Latin American cooking requires understanding what happened as waves of invaders overtook the existing cultures and as immigrants arrived. This influx of new influences began with the Spanish Conquistadors and the Portuguese in the 15th century and continued with the Italians, Germans, and Asians who came as laborers in the 19th century. Sisti tells how ingredients and dishes brought during the conquests, along with those that came with the Africans imported as slaves, were assimilated and adapted. Many of the imported ingredients are indeed the ones most likely associated with Latin American cookery, including wheat, beef, pork, chicken, sugar, rice, citrus fruits, bananas, and coconuts.

This book is a mixed bag of recipes. The great Feijoada, the Brazilian mixed stew of meats and black beans, and Picadillo, a kind of hash made in various Latin American countries, are the original classics. Most dishes, though, are adaptations or just use local ingredients. Hence you find a Chorizo Sausage Quesadilla with Parmesan Cheese, Salmon Tacos, and a Tex-Mex chili containing potatoes as well as meat and beans. The glossary is a comprehensive collection of important definitions. Handsome color photos of food and people enrich this book.

Finally, a warning is necessary. The directions for making Milk Pudding (Dulce de Leche) instruct you to boil an unopened can of condensed milk. This can cause the can to explode, leading to serious injury. --Dana Jacobi

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