by Sybil PrattNovember 2012
An international trifecta
Though we’ve become a global village, we still eat and cook in wonderfully diverse ways. Now three new, beautifully illustrated cookbooks take us on eye-opening, mouthwatering culinary journeys.
Maricel E. Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, with more than 500 recipes that roam through the rich gastronomic landscapes of Latin America from Mexico to the tip of Argentina, is a feast and a fiesta. As you cook your way through adobos, sofritos, empanadas, tangy ceviches, “big” soups and little snacks, meat and poultry (grilled, roasted and braised), salads, condiments and dulces, you’ll discover how the fusion of native and Iberian cooking customs has made la cocina Latina so deliciously complex.
When it comes to conjuring up the splendors—edible and otherwise—of exotic places, nobody does it better than Naomi Duguid. With Burma: Rivers of Flavor, she opens up the culinary culture of a country that’s long been a crossroads for traders and travelers from China, India and all of Southeast Asia. A celebration of place, people and traditional foodways in vibrant recipes, dazzling photographs and stories that reveal the heart of a land, Burma is a must, and a perfect gift, for cooks and travelers—armchair or actual.
Leanne Kitchen (great name for a food writer!) takes on a varied, venerable cuisine in Turkey. With more than 100 recipes, and photographs that you’ll want to bite into, she offers an elegant cook’s tour of Turkey’s seven geographic regions, where Mediterranean, Slavic and Middle Eastern influences mingle and where courtly Ottoman dishes share the Turkish table with more humble, hearty peasant fare.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Whether you’ve cooked a ton of turkeys or are facing your first—Do Not Proceed without Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well, Sam Sifton’s charming, absolutely essential manual. Sifton, a former New York Times restaurant critic, spent many Thanksgiving Days as a guardian angel, answering the newspaper’s Thanksgiving help line, saving the desperate from all sorts of disasters. He not only knows his stuff (and stuffing), he loves and honors the tradition, its promise and its joyful indulgence. But he’s strict about the rules: You will make turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce (a non-negotiable trio), offer more than one starch, more than one appropriate-to-the-season veg and classic desserts (not chocolate, not experimental), no salad, no appetizers, save a few briny oysters. Sifton says, “Thanksgiving ought to be the best holiday of the year,” and he gives the guidance, the indispensable recipes and the moral support you need to cook a great holiday feast (leftovers included) and not lose your mind!