by Maria Baez Kijac
A sprawling continent comprising many different climates, cultures, and culinary traditions, South America remains the most obscure part of the globe for North American cooks. Thanks in part to The South American Table, by Maria Baez Kijac, South American food promises to become much more a part of the culinary landscape for North Americans.
Kijac reminds readers just how many commonplace food products originated in South America: chocolate, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, hot peppers, and pineapple, to mention only some. Political developments influenced the evolution of South American cuisine after Columbus opened the continent to Europeans and the importation of Africans brought unusual reciprocity: South America gave Africa the cassava and sweet potatoes, and slaves introduced African tastes into the cooking of Brazil.
One dish appearing in several South American cuisines, tamales differ from one part of the continent to another according to the sort of dough used to hold the filling. The familiar corn masa wrapped in cornhusks appears in Mexican cooking and in some parts of northern South America. But other versions call for potatoes, rice, or yucca, each worth sampling.
Meat is critical to Argentine and Brazilian fare, and Kijac supplies marinades and instructions to reproduce these in northern climes. A glossary and a dictionary of ingredient names reflecting Spanish, Portuguese, and native terminologies helps clarify words. In general, recipe ingredients are well identified so that most recipes may be reproduced with a modicum of effort.
The South American Table is a great introduction to an underappreciated culinary tradition and should be a vital part of any ethnic cookbook collection.
—From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.
Visit Destinations page for more South American food by individual country.
This page modified February 2007
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