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The Very Best Cookbooks Of The Year
5 years ago

A guide for chefs and food lovers alike

gran cocina latina.png

Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, by Maricel E. Presilla

Few years yield books as encyclopedic and scholarly as this. Presilla, a culinary historian with a Ph.D. in medieval Spanish history, traveled everywhere in Latin America to bring an anthropologist's curiosity and trained cook's eye to the food of villages and cities. The result is the year's essential reference work, the first I've seen to comprehensively treat many countries whose food increasingly turns up in new restaurants--Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Cuba, of course Mexico--along with cuisines we never see, like those of Nicaragua, Uruguary, Paraguay.


As huge as the book is, it's designed to be usable by cooks, with chapters organized by ingredients and families of dishes, rather than by the many countries or ethnic influences Presilla carefully traces. From her years of running two successful and well-regarded Hoboken restaurants, Zafra and Cucharamama (for which she won a James Beard award last year), she knows what's practical. So alongside a complete explanation of the botanical history of the ubiquitous yuca, she'll talk about the virtues of canned yucca. In a section on the yet more ubiquitous potato she'll say, "Most of the time plain old russets will beat all the fancy competition for that crucial Andean mealiness." Here is a guide you must have for familiar dishes like ceviche, tamale, black bean soup, and moles, with multiple variants and simple master recipes. But even more than that, Presilla imparts her own joy in learning and cooking new foods.


read more here:


Note:   I bought this cookbook a few months ago but go to the link and enjoy!   I collect of my many weaknesses.

5 years ago

the beans, rice, couscous, dried fruits, lentils and the Israeli Mediterranean diets are all so healthy.  All of these diff. recipies are good and I am now going that direction.

food is hearty and filling and nutritious!

thanks Diane, I will try some of these out for sure. 

5 years ago

My big joy is collecting cookbooks, too, so that is my direction to buy this one.  I do like the ingredients of Latin American cooking and would love recipes that use this ingredients as part of their culture, too.  I have to say that Argentinian cooking is very good, as well.  Thank you for sharing Diane.  Any other top favorites?

5 years ago

 Chimichurri is one Argentinian accompaniment that I love.  There are so many versions of it, but I like making it best with either parsley or parsley & cilantro.


Should I thank you for posting this cookbook, Diane?  =)  Mostly yes, but where the heck am I going to put it?  My bookshelf runneth over.

5 years ago

Oh Sandy, ship them my way, I'll take the overflow.  LOL,,LOL...LOL  Diane will, too.  LOL

Seriously, you can never have enough cookbooks.  One kind that I really like, as well, are the community cookbooks.  They are so much fun.  That or the different organizations like churches, schools, PTA's, civic groups, etc.  

5 years ago

Sheila, glad you enjoyed the link.    I find that I read cookbooks over and over again...each time discovering something new.    They are like my friends LOL!


I've got the same problem, Sandy....where do I put these cookbooks?   Well, here and there is the answer.    Sometimes I go through them and take several to my grown children.   My son loves to cook, one sister "likes" to bake and the other sister cooks when her back is against the wall.    To each his own, but I find reading cookbooks and then trying the recipes is a great form of relaxation for me.


Right now I'm baking enchiladas ala Diane hubby loves my mexican cooking.  I think I'm just "so so" as Italian is what I'm most comfortable preparing but he swears up and down that my mexican recipes are his favorite.


I put the country ham bone still full of meat in my freezer after Thanksgiving.   I knew I'd get in the mood to fix navy bean soup or some variation of it so today was the day.   I have enchiladas in the oven and a pot of bean soup on the stove.   Now, bear in mind, that it's just the two of us this holiday season and I'm cooking like I'm expecting a party of 12 to walk in any minute.   This is a problem when you love the kitchen as much as I do.   So, I'll freeze the enchiladas that are left over for lunches and quick weeknight meals.   The bean soup will also freeze well in those disposable containers we find in our grocery stores.  


Normally, I would cook the seven fish on Christmas Eve.   I've done it for the past 35 years but this year will be different.    There's nothing wrong with accepting "change" and stepping out on a limb.

5 years ago

Did I correctly read that there is a recipe for moles?

5 years ago

Okay, Diane, I love to cook Mexican, too and will share a few recipes that I got from a Mexican lady I worked with as she was so patient.  She taught me how to make a number of things.  I would like to have your recipe for Navy Bean Soup, please and also what is seven fish?  That is a new one for me.  Also, your enchilada recipe would be fun as I like to collect different ones.  Do you do the green or red?

Living in an area where I was a minority to Hispanics, you do learn to cook Mexican food if you spend any time with people.  And no David, not moles, Mole.  I prefer mole verde to mole poblano as I don't like it as well with the chocolate in it, but it good none the less.

5 years ago

Linda, thanks for expanding on that and giving me enough information to find the right thing which is much more palatable! (And more conventional than digging dinner out of the yard!)

I have never been inclined toward latin american food, but that book does sound interesting.

5 years ago

David, forgot the LOL as I  was just having fun back at you.  LOL  Now if you wish to try moles, go for it but I won't need the recipe for that one.  LOL

5 years ago

I think I'll skip trying to cook moles, but I may get motivated enough to bake a pie or two.  What fun is life if you can't laugh a little?

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