Compared with Mexican or even Brazilian, Peruvian food is one of the least explored in terms of cookbooks – at least in the English language. There is an increasing amount of excellent culinary literature being produced in Peru, though outside of the region readers are limited to just a few books. This list includes the best selling books for sale in both English and Spanish.
“Rum is the history of America in a glass,” says author Wayne Curtis, in the introduction of his excellent book, And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World In Ten Cocktails. “It came out of the confusion of a freshly settled land, and its production became one of the dominant industries of the new economy,” writes Curtis. Through ten cocktails, Curtis explains not just the evolution of the spirit, but the development of the entire New World.
Taquile is an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca, a couple hour boat ride from Puno. The Quechua speaking island, though frequently visited by tourists, still retains a very traditional lifestyle, which includes weaving, traditional food and dress, and mythology. The beautifully illustrated book, Kusikiy: A Child From Taquile, Peru by Mercedes Cecilia, offers spectacular insight into the ancient culture still living on this fascinating island.
The uncontacted tribes of the Amazon basin are a reality that many regional governments would prefer not to be true. The existence of these highly susceptible indigenous groups – found in the most remote reaches of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela – prevents the miners, loggers, and oil from removing the valuable resources that are becoming increasingly easier to extract. While they are protected under international law, the enforcement of those laws is loose at best, shifting with every change in government. Some governments go as far to say that because they are unseen, that the tribes are fictional creations by environmentalists that want to hamper the development of rainforests. Proving that the tribes, who voluntarily choose to be in isolation, do exist without threatening them even more so than they already are is a complicated tasks, as the book The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes by Scott Wallace attests.
During a few weeks of travel in Trinidad and Guyana in late 2011, one song came on the radio again and again. It was soulful with a reggae beat. It was violent, tragic, and had an edge. It was the ballad of a murder occurring in Central station, sung with a West Caribbean accent. I googled some of the lyrics (Rum pa pa pum Rum pa pa pum Rum pa pa pum Man down) and it turns out it was by Rihanna, the Barbados born singer that has become a major pop star in the last few years. I thought I had discovered some great new reggae artist that no one would have heard of. I assumed the song was blowing up back in the states too, but when I came back that wasn’t the case. No one had ever heard of it and Man Down wasn’t getting play anywhere. It barely cracked the Billboard Top 100.
Mistura, a gastronomy festival held in Lima every September since 2008, is an identity feast. Gastronomy in Peru has many layers of hidden meanings, it is not just about the food. In her acclaimed documentary Mistura:The power of food, director Patricia Perez sets out to discover what these deeper meanings might be, and she does a wonderful job in doing so.
Mexican food is a complex cuisine with so many regional variations that it would be crazy to try to sum it all up in a book. So instead, what Roberto Santibañez did in his latest book “Truly Mexican”, was to focus in what he believes lays the backbone of Mexican food: its sauces and salsas. These are, according to Santibañez, what different dishes share in common. He doesn’t strive to offer a comprehensive guide of all Mexican sauces either, what he intends to do is to teach us the fundamentals, the basic techniques that will allow us to understand and enjoy Mexican cuisine, and in doing so getting the necessary skills to master other recipes as well.
In 1968 the eventual founders of Patagonia and North Face outfitters, Yvon Chouinard and Douglas Tompkins, and two other friends drive their VW bus on a whim to Patagonia. The follow the then mostly unpaved Pan-American highway from California to Chile on a trip that took 6 months. The journey would change both of their lives and begin their lifelong interest in Patagonia.
Francis Ford Coppola, who is now a hotel owner in Buenos Aires (see Casa Escondido below shot Tetro, a mostly black and white film on the streets of La Boca, the gritty port district in Buenos Aires where tango was born. The colorful barrio is as much of a character as the actors themselves and showcases Coppola’s love for the Argentina as they move from the capital with a drive south to Patagonia, where a literary festival sets the scene for the closing credits.
While this cookbook isn’t directly about Latin American food, it does have relevance – and no, it has nothing to do with the author’s last name being Pizarro (no relation to the conquistador). In Latin America, particularly South America where temperature changes are more prevalent than further north, food is highly seasonal and cooking styles are heavily influenced by Spain. Often they vary little from the motherland. Pizarro’s Seasonal Spanish Food brings 125 recipes are separated by the ingredients that are in season during each of the Spanish Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.