From Publishers Weekly
Food columnist Carballo's devotion to both her Cuban homeland and the magnificent food of her childhood are evident in this memoir with recipes. She grew up in prerevolutionary Cuba in the 1950s with divorced parents—her father, a philandering fortune-teller, instilled in his daughter a passion for food. "My dad loved every kind of food and always encouraged me to sample right along with him," Carballo writes. "He took pleasure in every bite. It was a joyful experience, and since then I have always associated food with being cosseted, with being happy." This anecdote is followed by a recipe for Roast Duck El Pacifico. Each vignette is a mere tidbit, a taste of Carballo's life, covering her family's eccentric friends, her years in an American convent boarding school, her early romances, right up to her escape to the U.S. after Castro came to power. The stories are not as consistently fulfilling as the recipes; the ones she doesn't tell are quite interesting: "Little did I know that my mother was on a mission to the Sierra Maestra carrying medicines and small arms" is virtually all she writes about her mother's astonishing work. The memoir is a treat, although more substantial fare would have been nice. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"What a delicious, romantic, bawdy, touching spell Viviana Carballo casts over us in her memoir/cookbook, Havana Salsa. With her original and immensely charming voice we are transported through her memories of Cuba in the 40s and 50s when the enthralling power, the 'magic realism' that Cuba had in spades was alive and well. She saves it and then teaches us how to prepare these lusty flavors that can come alive again in our kitchens. What an inspiration, what a joyride!"
-- Chef Norman Van Aken, founder of Norman's Restaurants USA and author of New World Kitchen
"I have seen and probably own every Cuban cookbook published since the 1950s, and Havana Salsa goes way beyond black beans! It is so well researched -- no cookbook collection can do without it, and it brings back the past in a delicious and decadent way."
-- Chef Douglas Rodriguez, restaurateur and author of The Great Ceviche Book
"A delectable collection of remembrances and recipes, Havana Salsa captures the exotic and enigmatic flavors of Cuba's past. With a fresh and uninhibited style, Viviana Carballo ventures beyond the merely nostalgic and invites us to ponder the tantalizing notion that, while the Cuba she knew is gone forever, through her love for the art of cooking it is still possible to savor some aspects of her country's former glory today."
-- Cecilia Samartin, author of Broken Paradise
--This text refers to an alternate