Latin American Cooking

If you think a mole is only a beauty mark or a reason to go to the doctor's office, and gooey orange cheese from a jar is the best way to make your nachos grande, you're truly a lucky person. All the savors and flavors of real Latin American cuisine will be a fresh adventure for you. Imagine the aromas as you splash lean, grilled fish with a blend of citrus and peppers. The unique warmth of a true Mexican mole (pronounced moh-lay), a blending of roasted garlic, tomatoes, peppers, spices, nuts, vegetables and, yes, often chocolate! can be the heart of the meal, transforming meats, grains, and sturdy vegetables into an exotic yet homey cuisine that is perfect for the chilly autumn nights to come.

Latin American cuisine shows the influence of history as newcomers from Africa, Spain, and other parts of Europe adapted their own dishes to the amazing foods they found in the Western Hemisphere. Bear in mind that there are differences in regions of a country just as there are differences between countries themselves. Great chefs have made these many cuisines accessible to American kitchens, and their books often serve lessons about other cultures as well as recipes. Voyage to sunnier lands through these unique cookbooks. You will find they vary in difficulty. Some embrace the nervous beginner, while others relish the challenge of preparing exquisite and complicated dishes.

Finding the ingredients for these recipes can be a bit of a challenge, although it is not as daunting a task as it was perhaps ten years ago. With more Hispanic Americans making their homes in the Rappahannock area, local grocery stores such as Shoppers Food Warehouse and Food Lion have made an effort to stock many popular ingredients. Indeed, specialty shops, such as Bladna Food Imports in the Greenbriar Shopping Center, are wonderful places to find an array of enticing ingredients. If all else fails, most cookbooks will include a list of mail order suppliers to take care of your needs.

Cooking the South American Way

By Helga Parnell

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An overview of South American cookery that includes information about the continent's holidays and festivals. Features simple recipes and menu planning that are perfect for school projects or the family kitchen where everybody cooks. This newer edition includes lower calorie and vegetarian recipes.

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Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

By Rick Bayless

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Excellent margin notes for the cook make this one a standout. Example: Simmering Fish Broth: Unlike other broths, fish broth gets bitter and strong if simmered more than 20 or 25 minutes. Who knew?

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A Taste of Puerto Rico

By Yvonne Ortiz

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Savory dishes, old and new, featuring the flavors of Puerto Rico: Pastellilos de Carne (meat turnovers), Cold Mango and Rum Soup, Pina Colada Cakes, and Camarones con Coco (coconut shrimp).

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A Cook's Tour of Mexico: Authentic Recipes from the Country's Best Open-Air Markets, City Fondas, and Home Kitchens

By Nancy Zaslavsky

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Nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award, "A Cook's Tour Of Mexico" includes more than extraordinary, flavorful recipes gathered from the kitchens of country farmers, village bakers, market vendors, and home cooks. The resulting effort is a collection of tantalizing, authentic recipes assembled in a coast-to-coast culinary tour of Mexico.

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Cooking the Mexican Way

By Rosa Coronado

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Recipes for celebrations and everyday. This newer version of the family favorite has slimmed-down recipes. Part of the Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks series. Clearly written recipes for easy dinners and snacks: Red Snapper with Lime Juice, Mango with Cinnamon, and a couple of kid-pleasing favorites, Tortillas with Chicken and Mexican Hot Chocolate.

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