The recent signs of spring are so small that, if I wasn’t desperate, I might not have noticed them at all. A little more light, a little later in the day, and I’m a completely different person. Once a layer comes off, I find it impossible to put it back on. Even with the frequent temperature drops, I stubbornly leave my gloves at home and my puffy coat is not coming out again until next year. All of which leaves me cold but determined. I’m also taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy my neighborhood in a way that I haven’t for a very, very long time. I reference Brooklyn in my posts often but the changes in the last few years can sometimes feel like a cautionary tale about getting everything you wish for.
Posts from the ‘Cuisine by Country’ Category
Last year I took what felt like a slightly selfish trip to New Orleans. My excuse was book research, so I decided beforehand not to post or take too many pictures. It felt like if I stopped to post or take a picture every time I saw something beautifully strange or strangely familiar in New Orleans, I’d do little else. Strange because it’s a city so completely itself that it makes you come all the way there to experience it and familiar because I’d always heard stories from my family about New Orleans when it was a short jump from Havana. There were so many parallels that it wasn’t surprising that so many of my relatives settled there when they left Cuba in the 1960s. Read more
I first met Leticia Moreinos Schwartz at a seminar at the International Culinary Center. Perched in the front row with a well-prepared list of questions and samples for the class, she would have been intimidating if she wasn’t so incredibly nice. We’ve stayed in touch since and she’s always quick to answer my questions and offer much needed guidance and advice. Her first book, The Brazilian Kitchen, is full of unfailing recipes and her personal insight into Brazilian cuisine and has become a favorite. Less familiar to me than other Latin American traditions, Brazilian food has been a blind spot though I’m always happy when I make the effort. Her latest, My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook, tells an even more personal story of both the carioca home cooking she grew up with and the contemporary Brazilian cuisine she encounters on frequent trips home.
For years, I’ve heard about the Puerto Rican families gathering in the kitchen during their endless Christmas season to make pasteles and felt a little jealous. Researching and writing about them for Devour felt like a lonely way to go about making what should be a communal recipe. To fill the kitchen, I consulted my cousins and aunt for the traditions surrounding Puerto Rican Christmas, my friend Carmen Rivera whose husband insisted raisins should only be optional, and my market friend Arelys Ocasio who suggested I throw in plantains to the usual blend of guineos and yautia. Jump to Devour to read more. Read more
Recently, I had the rare chance to attend a dinner for Edible Brooklyn hosted chef Diego Felix of the Colectivo Felix and chef Hugo Orozco Carrillo at La Slowteria. Rare, because Diego is rarely in one place for very long, but then, that’s kind of the point. It was the kind of lingering, midsummer evenings you almost think you imagined the next day. Fortunately, I was there with photographer Emily Dryden who took some lovely pictures to capture it all.
It was unmistakable. There was a chill in the air this morning. Not a breeze, not a nip, but a chill. This summer went by fast for me and being in the final stretch of recipe testing and writing has only accelerated it. This week I was looking for a substitute for the Cuban aji guaguao and was told that tabasco peppers should work. I stopped by a few of my favorite markets but they didn’t carry them. Earlier this year, I was supposed to visit the McIlhenny Company‘s tabasco pepper fields in Louisiana but the trip was postponed until October. At the time it felt like a long ways off but now it couldn’t come soon enough. With New York produce failing me, I couldn’t wait to be where tabasco peppers were literally growing on trees (or bushes – not sure because I haven’t been there yet). Read more
I must really look overwhelmed because my sister Carmen offered to post to my site. I know she doesn’t usually follow recipes but I’ve wanted to have something from Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales since she reviewed it for The Latin Kitchen. I offered to take the pictures if she would do the heavy lifting, and I got to try really great tacos I didn’t make myself. Enjoy!
When I was little, I loved the first day of school. It wasn’t that I was popular or liked homework. I loved the idea that I would know things at the end of the year that I didn’t at the beginning of it. Every new book, new teacher, new class was filled with opportunities to know more. But, I savored the idea of it more than it’s actuality. Very much like cooking with a recipe.
With Ana deeply buried in recipe testing and research for her upcoming book, she asked if I would post for her again. “Sure,” I replied breezily. I figured I would make my grilled skirt steak with coarse salt and pepper over high heat. I even ventured that I could add sliced avocado and maybe some oil and vinegar. Ana was not impressed and asked me to make something out of Roberto Santibanez’s Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales instead. Read more
With my manuscript deadline closing in, I haven’t been able to update as much as I’d like. For months now, I’ve been waiting for life to get back to normal but am starting to realize that this might be it. Not wanting to stay away any longer, I’ve decided to keep it light and frothy – very frothy – and write about batido de cherimoya. I had it for the first time at a small Peruvian restaurant my mother wanted to try. Lost in a tetris-like configuration of strip malls, it was actually a great place with amazing ceviche and Miami-eccentric service. Their jugo de cherimoya reminded me of the icy champola de guanabana (another tropical fruit with a pre-historic exterior and sweet center) I had growing up. Read more
Usually, I get so caught up during holidays that my celebratory posts don’t appear until around midnight. While it’s been hard to post while I’ve been away, I didn’t want to let the day go by without putting my roundabout father’s day post.
Of course, my father had every reason to expect a boy – they already had a girl after all. Though I rarely met him even halfway (tee-ball, soccer and tennis were disasters), I did prefer Star Wars to Barbie (there was a princess in it), wasn’t squeamish about what went in the frituras de sesos he love to make, and stayed awake during The Right Stuff – so I don’t think he minded too much. A foodie before the word, he gave me sugar cane to cut my teeth on, took me to the docks to buy fish as the boats came in, presented me with meltingly tender Italian prosciutto like it was a visiting dignitary, and charmed a fast melting cooler of Mexican guanabana ice cream through customs. Read more