Virgilio Martinez knows Peruvian food very good. After all, he’s the award-winning chef at Central, a popular restaurant in Lima that serves food from the widely varied local climates throughout Peru. The result, he says, is a cuisine inspired by “different regions, from the sea, to the coast, to the desert, to the Andes, to the vast Amazon.” Its tasting menus feature, among other offerings, skillfully coated piranha, dishes featuring four different types of ancestral corn, and kochoro Pearly cyanobacteria dwell in water for dessert.
Central is an ambitious project. Then Martinez tackled something else: put together a cookbook on the cuisine of all of Latin America, with recipes that sourced from Suriname to El Salvador.
The result is huge. latin american cookbook At 430 pages and containing recipes from 22 countries, a vast territory that Martinez writes “stretches from Mexico in North America through the whole of South and Central America.” He first went to publisher Phaidon, with a less ambitious proposal. “My first hunch was, ‘Let’s talk about places in South America that I know very well, like Argentina, Chile and Brazil,'” he says. However, he says, the publishing company suggested that he write about Latin America as a whole.
“But Latin America is huge,” he remembers replying. At first he sucked, soon reconsidered. “Why not?” He says, shrugging off the Zoom call. “It’s starting to make sense.” In addition, it has been done before. Refers to the extended continent Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America Written by Marciel E. Presilla, 2013 James Beard Cookbook of the Year awardee. Martinez says interest in the region’s culinary culture has only grown in the meantime. Central boasts an entire research center, Mater Initiative, with staff already trained in culinary and culinary studies. There were enough cooks in the kitchen to get the project done.
Five years later, the result was a fittingly huge book. Recipes range from universally known (guacamole) to intensely regional (Changing pancakes, whose main component, wild mushrooms, grows on beech trees in southern Chile in spring).
Most regional cookbooks aimed at a general American readership begin with a shopping list of seasonings, seasonings, and other ingredients that appear regularly, and their authors may ignore or simplify recipes that call for super-local produce.
But in a book devoted to the whole of Latin America, the shopping list would be unreasonably long, and avoiding hard-to-find ingredients would make neighboring but distinct national cuisines blend together, creating a steal latin american cookbook Lots of great details.
So Martinez chose a different path. He included recipes for dishes like empanadas de changles, based on seasonal regional chile mushrooms, and char-grilled eggs from the great flightless rhea—all while acknowledging the necessity of alternatives. “You don’t have to follow the recipe,” Martinez insists: a rather hilarious phrase from the cookbook author. “If you don’t find an ingredient, you can use anything. Be creative. Don’t stress.”
Even his team had trouble sourcing everything in this book. Inside Peru, he cooks Peruvian food, he can always send someone to do research and pick up the ingredients. “I can’t send someone to Belize,” he said, looking scandalous. “We don’t have the budget.” Often times, he ends up sending what he calls “massive emails” to friends and acquaintances abroad, asking for help.
Rather than struggle it, nervous chefs encourage the use of whatever local ingredient they think would be a good substitute. “Just have fun, and try to be a little Latin American,” laughs. “Try to innovate.” Perhaps it is that spirit of innovation that has given rise to so many dishes popping up time and time again across Latin America, with huge variations baked.
Takes caramel biscuit for example. Colonists brought these delicate, layered cakes from Spain to the Americas. Every recipe in latin american cookbook It comes with a short informative introduction, which is absolutely necessary to know why Argentina Alfajores Santavicino different from chile Alfajores from Matila. One frozen, the other filled with sweet spicy paste. The text also indicates that there are just too many variations of these cookies.
Then there is King Kong. It’s a large-sized fajor from northern Peru, often with four layers of biscuits stuffed with sweets tenderness and reserves. He got his name only in 1933, when locals watched the American movie about a giant gorilla and then saw their giant local buns.
in front the latin american cookbook, Martinez reflects on how Latin American food has already become a global dominance at every level of cooking, from home cooking to fine dining. “Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, corn and cocoa have become staples all over the world,” Martinez wrote. “Wherever you are, you eat Latin America on a daily basis, whether you realize it or not.” His book, though, is a great roadmap on how to take those nutrients and beyond in their original, delicious context.
Gastro Obscura covers the world’s most amazing food and drinks.
Subscribe to our email, which is delivered twice a week.