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If I asked you where “quinoa” and “chia” recipes originated, you’d probably say some health blogger on the internet. While it’s true that superfoods have quite a presence in today’s food scene, they actually date back several thousand years ago to the Andes region.
I’m talking Andes, like the country of Peru, not the little green chocolate mints you get after a meal…but those are pretty good too. Peruvian cooking is unlike any cuisine I’ve ever tried-it’s sustainable, organic, and full of colors and flavors you wouldn’t expect (I’m looking at you, purple potatoes).
In his new book, Andina – The Heart of Peruvian Food – Recipes and Stores from the Andes, Martin Morales sumptuously captures the essence of Peruvian cooking in 100+ recipes, many of which are ones passed onto him by his grandmother, some of the best chefs in the Andes, among others.
Andina is Spanish word that roughly translates to mean “woman,” as well as a dish or ingredient that hails from the Andes region. This is fitting because the Morales includes many recipes that were created by his grandmother, in addition to many other dishes that are regional favorites by locals and tourists alike. An aspect that I really liked about the way Morales describes Andina cuisine is that it is one that constantly evolves and adapts. While some dishes and ingredients are “tale as old as time,” like quinoa and chia-based dishes, others are new creations that Morales and his staff have recently introduced at his restaurants.
While the book includes many mentions of Peru, it’s important to note that the Andes mountain range spans six other countries: Bolivia, Ecquador, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela. Within Peru alone, there are eleven different Andina regions (illustrated on p. 208)…each with its own climate and cultural identity. Morales mentions that about half of the cookbook’s recipes originate from the eleven Andina regions in Peru, and the other half are “new recipes that are influenced by the ingredients and traditions in those regions.” I’d say it’s a very well-crafted fusion of old and new, and if you didn’t read this or the intro in the book, you might not be able to tell one from the other.
Let’s start with the cover of the book, shall we? It looks like a tiled piece of art. How freaking cool is that? Both the front and back covers are decorated in this off-white raised tile pattern that’s decorated with brightly colored flower-like designs. This is by far one of the most beautiful book covers I’ve come across (and for that alone, I think this would make an excellent holiday gift to a friend or family member looking for a cookbook that’s a little bit out of the norm).
Moving on to the table of contents, the book is organized in the way you’d eat throughout the day: Breakfast, Snacks, Salads, Ceviches, Pan-fried & Steamed, Grilled/Baked & Roasted, Stews, Soups, Desserts, Drinks, & Stories from the Andina Regions.
One of my favorite things about this cookbook is (nearly) EVERY RECIPE HAS A PICTURE. A well-lit, mouthwateringly-amazing photo. This time around for recipe tests, that’s how I picked out what to make and I was really pleasantly surprised, because I picked dishes I might not have otherwise been drawn to, like sweet potato pancakes (that I’ve now made five times since my taste test, they’re that good).
Each recipe has a Spanish and English name, so if you’re wanting to practice your language skills or impress dinner guests, you’ve got the correct translation of each dish. I didn’t really have any difficulty finding ingredients for the recipes I chose, but if you do come across a recipe with some unusual additives, I’d recommend checking out a specialty food store, like World Market or Whole Foods, where more unusual kinds of chilis or spices might be more accessible (or, alternatively, a quick Amazon/Google search will likely yield easy substitutes and/or where to find said ingredients online).
One other quick thing that I noticed, before I dive into the recipes, is that at the bottom of each recipe, the author has noted whether or not it’s gluten free, vegan, and/or vegetarian. I think this is super helpful if you’re cooking for yourself or someone else with food sensitivities/allergies. It’s that kind of attention that I LOVE to find (in books, products, clothing, etc.).
PANQUEQUES DE CAMOTE (p. 32) – This recipe falls under the “breakfast” category, but you could probably serve them as a desert as well. As an added bonus, they’re vegetarian because the “whipped cream” used to dress up the dish is actually made out of coconut! Even though these pancakes are made of sweet potatoes, you’d never know (great dupe for kids to cut down an otherwise sugary treat). I really liked that these weren’t super sweet and could be made into a sweet or savory dish – I followed the recipe and did fruit with a homemade coconut cream, but I could easily see this being added to veggies or with a protein.
SOLTERITO (p. 66) – This recipe is listed as a “snack,” but could easily be made into a salad or appetizer. I’d say this is a fresh take on a “veggie salad,” as it integrates lots of fun colors (like purple potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese). The story behind this dish is that it was once only eaten by unmarried men, as it’s a light but filling salad that “helped loveless bachelors to stay svelte while each one searched for a wife.” While you certainly don’t have to be a hopeless romantic looking for love to enjoy this dish, I think it’s a great healthy option to have for lunch or as a side to a meal.
ESPARRAGOS A LA PARILLA (p. 133) – This recipe is from the “Grilled, Baked & Roasted” section. It reminded me a bit of “corn on the cob,” as you grill the asparagus (something I’ve never done, but will certainly try again). This dish was so easy to make & if you have guests that don’t like sauce on their veggies, you can easily serve it on the side.
Overall, I’d say that this book gives readers a really authentic feel for Peruvian food and culture. The last time I visited Peru was almost ten years ago, and as I thumbed through the pages and made these recipes, I was instantly transported back to the sights, sounds, and smells of such a vibrant culture that I miss dearly and desperately want to visit again (probably once I’m done with school and have a more flexible schedule to travel).
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Purchase this title — Andina: The Heart of Peruvian Food: Recipes and Stories from the Andes
Score Card: Cover Art 6/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Andina by Martin Morales
Page Count- 272
Binding- Hardcover with color photography
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