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Customer Review

59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing first edition, December 20, 2012
This review is from: Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (Hardcover)
From the other reviews, you already know that this book is comprehensive, amazing, and quite heavy!

You should keep in mind that it is encyclopedic and is also a first edition, so it contains a large number of typographical and other errors. At the same time, Presilla provides important and excellent suggestions.

For example, my wife and I decided to make Cochinita Pibil. Presilla suggests Yucatecan Saffron Rice, Yucatecan Refried Beans, and Yucatecan Red Onions Pickled in Bitter Orange Juice. The onion recipe declares them to be the obligatory accompaniment for the pig, so we added those to the meal. The recipe for the beans suggests the pig and rice. The rice recipe suggests the pig, beans, and onions. OK, so you're making all this as a meal, we decided.

For the pig, Presilla suggests country-style spareribs marinated for a couple of hours and that they be cooked at 425F for 35-45 minutes. This is just plain wrong.

The C/S sparerib is somewhat of an abomination: a piece of sparerib with an attached piece of chop. It is impossible for these two distinct cuts to cook at the time same rate. Plus, you have all the small, razor-sharp bones to contend with! A shoulder or butt is probably ideal for this; whole loin for a low-fat version would work OK.

If you look at your Bayless/Kennedy/etc collection and look online, you'll see that 4-24 hours marination is ideal. We ended up going 24 hours once we figured out that the cooking time was way off. Indirect gas or charcoal at about 300F for several hours, or braised in the oven (our choice) for several hours is what most people recommend. 45 minutes at 450F would produce nothing but shoe leather.

Anyway, this is first-edition type stuff!

As for the meal, the onions were... hot but good. The beans were... bland but had a lingering heat. The rice was... plain old saffron/Mexican rice and somewhat bland, and the meat was... strange. Oh no: we cooked all day and the result is mediocre!

But when you make some corn tortillas, sit down, and COMBINE each of the components with the onions and with one another, something magic happens! This was the best meal of 2012, hands down. Presilla's repeated cross-suggestions of accompaniments is CRITICAL to the success of this meal. The onions, citrus, and cilantro make the other components simply explode with flavor. Indeed, you could say that those onions are the main part of the meal; I've never experienced anything quite like it!

Without her insight, we most certainly would not have chosen this combination of items, would have had a mediocre meal, and probably never would have made this again.

As it turns out Bayless' Picadillo Oaxaqueno, Calabacitas con Crema, and Frijoles Negros Borrachos may have just been edged out by Presilla. Believe me, this is saying something!

Four stars, just for the first edition errors; a remarkable five-star work aside from that.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 2, 2013 10:43:20 AM PDT
Astoundingly says:
appreciate this review, very helpful. speaking of "first edition" issues -- i'm not seeing credits here on amazon for photographer or illustrator. am I missing these? is it the author? do you know if they are credited the book at least? from what i see and understand, these works are crucial.

Posted on Sep 17, 2013 6:47:26 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 17, 2013 3:01:49 PM PDT]

Posted on Jan 30, 2014 5:47:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 30, 2014 5:48:16 PM PST
Robb Gibbs says:
"Country-style" Spareribs are actually cuts from the shoulder. To quote a bit from this page (

"In the mid to late 80's, to keep up with the demand for "Country Style Ribs", pork shoulder butts (Boston Butt) were split in two underneath the blade bone and cut into strips on the saw, some boneless, some bone in. These so called 'ribs' cut from the shoulder are 99% of the Country Style Ribs that you see today in the supermarkets and your large chain box stores (Sam's, Costco, etc). They are by no means 'ribs', but a tasty cut for the grill. I brine mine and cook approx 275° indirect for 2 1/2-3 hours and they come out perfect every time."
So yeah - You probably wanted shoulder. Hope this can be helpful if you do the recipe again.

Posted on Jul 16, 2014 2:56:53 PM PDT
I'm the author of a cookbook on Yucatecan cuisine currently available on Amazon. I can tell you from years of regional experience in the peninsula that NO ONE uses ribs or anything equivalent; even the name of the dish means "small pig", and cooks either use the entire pig (head, ears, tail, offal and all) or more commonly in taquerías just a leg or shoulder. Furthermore, they never marinate meats; the recado is poured on, and it goes into the underground oven known as a píib immediately. Imagine trying to marinate a whole pig in the tropical heat, without a refrigerator. Unlike Presilla, these folks aren't restaurant people, just average people making a living selling the best pork in the country.Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition (The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere)
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