From Publishers Weekly
In his latest, chef Hoyer (Culinary Mexico) offers a vibrant, thorough guide to Mayan cooking. Once cooks master the basic recado, a thick seasoning paste that serves as a key flavor component, they're ready to tackle dishes like Salpicón de Venado (a roast venison salad), polenta studded with wild mushrooms, classic Mexican Lime Soup and meaty dishes like Pavo en Chilimole (Turkey in Black Seasoning Paste) and the classic pit-roasted pork, Cochinita Pibil. Those looking for shortcuts will likely be frustrated, as Hoyer is a traditionalist who makes tortillas and masa from scratch for his tamales, including the elaborate Tamales de la Bola Colados, a traditional wedding dish in which shredded chicken is enveloped in a smooth, custard-like masa and steamed. That said, many less-complicated dishes are just as rewarding, including pumpkinseed dip and brittle, luscious Chayote Squash Pudding, Cuban roast pork and crunchy Xol-Chon Kek, a jicama and orange salad. Hoyer is encouraging and enthusiastic, offering salient tips for key techniques like working with tamale wrappers and charring tomatoes, as well as sources for hard-to-locate ingredients. Those interested in expanding their cultural and culinary horizons will find this collection both educational and all-inclusive.
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A food rich in flavor to begin with, but taking on the best traits of other traditions of cuisine -- Spanish, French, Asian, Caribbean, and so many more -- it's one way to describe the food of the Maya. "Mayan Cuisine: Recipes From the Yucatan Region" is a look at the delectable food of the Mayan people, with step-by-step guides and full color photos to help one emulate the authentic Mayan flavor in their own kitchen. With dishes like Meat and Rice-Stuffed Leaves, Tamale Pie, Yucatan Breakfast Sausages, and more, "Mayan Cuisine: Recipes From the Yucatan Region" is a must for any ethnic cookbook shelf or for anyone looking for a different taste to sink their teeth into.
(James A. Cox Wisconsin Bookwatch: June 2008