“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.
Steven Roll, who writes a great blog about Latin American travel, Travel Ojos, asked me a few months ago to contribute a short story in an ebook project he was working on called Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level. I’m happy to say that the free book has been released and it’s quite good.
The South America Handbook, begun in 1921 as the Anglo-South American Handbook (before the Royal Mail Steamship Company privatized it in 1924), has been one of the most talked about, written about, and longest continually published guidebooks in the world. The guide doesn’t have the commercial appeal of Lonely Planet South America, but everyone from Graham Greene to Michael Palin have raved about its resourcefulness. The pages are full of info and bible thin, which is only partly why sometimes the guide is compared to “that other bestseller.” It doesn’t tell you where to go like some of the other guides as much as it tells you of what is there. On my first trip to South America, this is the guide I carried with me.
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.
This list, my own creation, names 50 of the best books about the South American continent. Some titles date back to the time of conquest, while others were written this year. With the holiday shopping season among us, don’t forget that a book is a great gift idea, especially for any Latin America guru or wannabe. Some of the books are out of print or hard to find, though the majority are available through Amazon (just click on the link).
My 1st edition Frommer’s Honduras has been released, conveniently about the same time as the former tourism minister of the country says not to travel there. FYI: Most of Honduras is still relatively safe to travel in, particularly the Bay Islands. Great deals are being had for divers now if you… Read More →
Rubber trees grow wild in the Amazon rainforest and at the beginning of the automobile industry the world’s rubber trade was completely reliant on the Amazon jungle. Rubber tappers, mostly indigenous families who were widely exploited, gathered rubber from vast reserves near large Amazonian cities such as Iquitos, Manaus, and Santarem. The trade brought considerable wealth to the region and the rubber barrons lived like royalty in these cities, importing Azulejo tiles and even gourmet foods from Europe.
The Greatest List of Books, Films, Music, and TV Shows about Peru ever compiled.
I’ve been on an Amazon kick lately, partly because I’m headed in the region briefly next week, but also because I have long been fascinated by Amazon exploration. New York based David Grann, a not too adventurous writerly type, goes to Brazil in search of the remains of the legendary explorer P.H. Fawcett, a man considered to be the most famous of all Amazon explorers…