Viva Vegan! arrived yesterday! I pre-ordered it so long ago that I had forgotten I even did it!
One glance was all I needed to know that I need to cook my way through this book. 200 recipes for things like arepas, salteñas, empanadas, feijoada, alfajores, batidos, arroz con leche, flan, bread pudding made with mango and guava! Oh man, I am in heaven!
Most of you may know this already, but I spend my real life immersed in all things Latin American. In my travels to the region, I often have a hard time finding food I can eat. Saying "I'm a vegetarian" will get you fish or chicken at dinner. "I'm sorry, I don't eat meat or eggs" just gets you puzzled looks that say "How is that possible??" at breakfast. I once ate papaya for breakfast and arepas and rice for lunch for an entire week in Venezuela. May sound delicious to you, but after day 3, I was dying for something else! One night on that same trip I went to a meal catered by a 5 star restaurant. I explained to the chef that I don't eat meat and he said it was not a problem to make something special for me. He returned with raviolis that were filled with something strange. When I asked what it was, he said, without batting an eyelash, "We made a special vegetarian dish for you. The raviolis have cazón". Yes, that would be baby shark! And in Cuba, EVERYTHING is covered in pork, even the rice and beans. I spent most of that trip hungry and grumpy. Guatemala and Mexico were a little bit easier, but mostly because I was with locals that knew where I should eat.
This book gives me a ton of options and will actually let me try things I haven't been able to try due to their ingredients. For example, Bolivian salteñas pretty much always have beef in them and often use gelatin to coagulate all of the ingredients. Yuck!
A lot of these recipes look like they will require a little work, so I think cooking my way through will need to wait at least until I finish my final paper for grad school, or maybe even until late May when I move. At that point I'll have a Latin grocery store a few blocks from my apartment and a captive audience as I force Jesse to try out my latest creations!