As an obsessive book collector, I felt compelled to buy Gran Cocina Latina, by chef Maricel Presilla, as a pre-Christmas present for myself. Many times I´ve bought cookbooks that try to recreate the food of Latin America, and very often I´ve been disappointed. This gigantic book, however, was very different.
From page one, I felt the urge to run to the kitchen and start cooking right away. I was very surprised by this burst of inspiration! It happens that I know the cuisines of Central and South American fairly well, and each page of Gran Cocina Latina took me back to the years when I was growing up in Nicaragua, visiting family in El Salvador, or traveling up and down Latin America. As I read on, I could feel the taste of all the delicious dishes from my memory, and the aromas of the Caribbean, of the Andes, of the Pacific Ocean filled my mind.
Maricel Presilla holds a doctorate in Medieval History; she is also an award-winning chef, and owner of two famous restaurants in New Jersey: Zafra, and Cucharamama, featuring pan– Latin food. This book was a long time project for the author, and took her 30 years of traveling, researching, cooking and tasting, to complete. In her own words, this is the story of her life, but it´s also the story of Latin American people.
The 900 plus pages of Gran Cocina Latina are full of stories, anecdotes, and flavorful recipes from Mexico to Patagonia. Reading it was an interesting and mouthwatering journey, and I think it will be by my side for a long time.
In the photos above, you can see Mexican salsas, Salvadorean pupusas and tortillas, and Nicaraguan vigorón. The pictures are mine, not from the book, but I wanted to share them to give you an idea of some of the recipes you will find here.
If you are like me and love giving out or receiving books for the holidays, this book makes a great Christmas present and you should definitely consider it and put it in your list.