Ã¢â‚¬ËœCuba, Quiero bailar la salsa, Cuba Quiero bailar la salsa’, I’m sorry but whenever I hear the word Cuba I also hear the Gibson Brothers disco hit of 1979. Takes me right back, it does.
The book’s avowed aim is to rescue recipes that are in danger of disappearing, or which have already dropped off the radar, as well as document new emerging Cuban food trends.
So, don’t expect any recipes designed to’kick your food up a notch’, or’take it to the next level’. That said the book is not at all boring; an exuberant design style makes it lively to look at and the photography is of the fashionable 90-degrees down made popular by food bloggers.
And the food certainly sounds good. Much of it has, as the intro explains, been influenced by the socialised food systems of the 1960s and then the scarcity of almost everything when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s.
Official restaurants ceased to be viable and the Paladares, or private restaurants took up the slack which had the effect of revitalising the country’s food culture. They brought back’home cooking’ and in many cases created whole new recipes, evolved a street food culture and vibrant farmers’ markets.
So, what’s on the menu? 350 recipes that are far from complicated and don’t need any unfamiliar techniques to achieve and, as might be expected, are not costly to put together.
Global influences have shaped Cuban cuisine, making it one of the most interesting ones currently out there. Spain is a big influence, of course, but you will find echoes of the USSR and Asia sounding out as well with recipes for appetisers, rice dishes, fish, meat, vegetables, egg dishes, desserts, and more.
They all sound very achievable and have an honest simplicity that is quite mouth-watering.
It’s definitely a fine and need to have book for anyone interested in food in more ways than simply cooking it, who is interested in food history, influences and culture.
Phaidon have to be complimented for not taking the easy route of simply turning out books by the bloggers of the week, or yet another TV tie-in, but actually finding authors of substance, experience and expertise who can tell interesting stories.
Cuba- The Cookbook is another one for the serious food reader’s bookcase.