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Product Description

From the publisher

In the past Latin American chefs looked across the Atlantic with envy. “For so many years, we viewed the sophistication of French and Italian food with admiration, feeling perhaps that the gap between European and Latin American cuisines was too great to overcome,” writes the chef and author Virgilio Martínez in his introduction to The Latin American Cookbook. “But over time, we learned to appreciate the luxury in our own native foods and culinary traditions, and to appreciate the artisans who make them a reality.”

After all, it was the ancient artisans of Latin America who first domesticated, harvested, cooked and ate such familiar worldwide culinary staples as potatoes, maize and tomatoes.

As our new book explains, potato tubers were first domesticated around Lake Titicaca in Peru around 8,000 years ago. “Once wild and bitter and the size of a coin, they have been bred to be larger, survive in different climates, and have greater intensity of color and nutrients, not to mention be more flavorful. Freeze-dried in the frigid night air, they could be stored for years at a time, allowing Inca armies to march across the continent.”

The story behind corn or maize is a similar one. This crop was first domesticated by ancient indigenous groups in southern Mexico between 7,500 and 12,000 years ago. “From Mexico, maize cultivation spread north and south to the far reaches of the continent,” the text in our new book explains. “With each culture that the crop came into contact with, new uses developed. In rural areas, it is eaten three times a day. Corn is part of Mayan creation myths, and Inca armies carried toasted kernels with them as they marched across the Andes.”

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— Chef Scott

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