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298801_restaurant_tableThe cookbook Gran Cocina Latina is a portfolio showcasing Latin American cuisine. Don’t think spicy. Yes, there are some peppers, but think coconut milk, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, avocado, Spanish olives, allspice berries, bacon, butternut squash- a lot of familiar tastes juxtaposed with new unfamiliar spices and edibles like epazote, guajillo chiles, pigeon peas which are all found easily in your nearby Latin American supermarket.

The author Maricel Presilla weaves stories of her own Cuban cooking traditions with food stories of Paraguay, El Salvador, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua to name a few. She travels all of Latin America-from village to village, home to home, kitchen to kitchen gathering recipes, listening to family cooking traditions, collecting memories and imparts this food wisdom to the reader to excite and entice us.

Follow me as I crack wide open this 900 page cookbook to find my story to share around the table and bring us a little closer to our Latin American brothers and sisters. My goal is to cook most of the recipes and challenge the book’s effectiveness for the average kitchen cook. What I hope in the end is that I can understand a lot about Latin American cooking by reading, testing and tasting. So let’s begin our journey.

As we no longer have a large family living at home, I will reduce the amount of servings I make to not have waste- but I think it will all get eaten, regardless. Menu for the week:

  • Paraguayan Meatballs in Broth and Paraguayan Corn Bread
  • Nicaraguan Ground Beef and Baby Corn with White Rice
  • Cuban Style Shrimp in Enchilado Sauce; Fried Green Plantains; White Rice
  • Cuban Pineapple and Avocado Salad
  • Venezuelan Pan Fried Shredded Beef; White Rice and Black Beans; Venezuelan Chunky Avocado Sauce
  • My Father’s Very Soupy Chicken Soup
  • Peruvian Chicken and White Bean Stew with Smoked Paprika and Garlic Sauce

 

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