The Latin-American population is the fastest growing in the United States--over 30 million people. Just look at the starting lineup of Major League Baseball if you need deeper proof. It's a population rich in cultural diversity, roots reaching back all over the place--Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Argentina. And the nice thing that happens in this country, as Aaron Sanchez so eloquently points out in his first cookbook, La Comida del Barrio
, is that this multilayerd diversity melts all over itself and becomes something new while suggesting something old and stable.
"This book is not about 'authentic' regional dishes," Sanchez writes in his introduction. Rather, it's about the real food of the real barrio, the Latin neighborhood, wherever that may be these days in the US. You'll find a small soup stand, la fonda, in the marketplace and that's his first chapter--black bean soup, shrimp chowder, plantain soup, menudo. Then there's the home kitchen restaurant, el paladar, open to the lucky ones who can find it. Stews are typical, and that's the next chapter--Brazilian cassoulet, roasted rabbit. The chapters march right up the Latin dining scale: la taquería for street snacks, la rosticcería for roasted meats, el comedor (the restaurant) for salads and entrees, el Mercado for vegetables and side dishes, la pandería for baked goods and sweets, la jugería for drinks, and a final chapter on essential recipes.
The entire Latin culinary landscape as it's found throughout the US is captured between the covers of La Comida del Barrio. Sanchez has done a wonderful job. You can take this food into your own home. But what's especially nice, with this book tucked under your wing, you can explore the barrio nearest you and taste it all for real. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
The son of Mexican cooking legend Zarela Martinez, Sanchez is carving out his own reputation as co-host of the Food Network's Melting Pot. In keeping with the style of that show's offerings, Sanchez here serves up 120 recipes reflecting the heritage and contemporary tastes of Latinos living in the U.S. These are neither attempts to capture the authentic recipes of Central and South America nor fancified "nouvelle" interpretations. They are the dishes served in the homes and restaurants of North America's Latino neighborhoods. Most ingredients will be readily available in American supermarkets and the items that may require a visit to the local barrio (e.g., guajillo chile or frozen banana leaves) are described in short footnotes making them easier to find or replace. From Spanish-influenced Conejo Asado (Roasted Rabbit) to Caribbean Pescado en Salsa de Coco (Fish in Coconut Broth), the dishes range well beyond the predictable but remain within the grasp of an average home cook. Sanchez's homey introductions and sidebars give the book a personal slant that should help build his own brand name; his wonderfully active photos offer glimpses into Latino neighborhoods across the country.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.