I know one, but not the other. As much as I relish great food, Latin American cuisine has held both familiarity and intimidation. Familiarity because so many of the ingredients are essentially Indian - rice, beans, cilantro, tomatoes, chiles. Intimidation because I don't know enough about it, and therefore am not qualified to know good from mediocre. Or so I thought.
First one, and then several tastes of food made by a real-deal, accent intact, fierce foodie and chef later, all I knew was that I wanted it all. And then some. The mere mention of food cooked by her is enough to get my younger daughter drooling, while my carb-free, diet-conscious older child will sit down with an entire tray of Pastellito de Guayaba con Queso made by her, and polish them off.
Columbus, upon his failure to find India, and possibly trying to pass off his discoveries in America as vaguely Indian, brought chilis back with him and called them peppers, in lieu of returning with actual peppercorns. Africa and Latin America became the repositories of seeds, spices and plants from both sides of the world, and boy has the cuisine benefitted!
Brazilian chef Ana Claudia Tapioca of Global Comfy is our guest chef of the week, bringing you dishes from various countries in Latin America. If you've ever been fortunate enough to attend a cooking class taught by her, you already know the prodigious amount of culinary knowledge she carries in her head, which is charmingly topped with her kinky curls. That knowledge is translated into sheer magic on a plate - fiery but balanced sauces, esquite rice that I still dream about, succulent pork with lacquered skin the color of dark caramel...I could go on and on.
Spice Route Kitchens is designed to bring you the true cuisine of a region, not just the familiar versions served in restaurants. To that end, this week's menu from Ana made me want to lick the screen when she sent it to me, and I don't even know what most of these dishes are! We think you will share the sentiment.
Follow along on social media @cheeniraleigh to keep an eye out for the menu, which we will release before Wednesday. We're working through kinks in ordering, deliveries etc., as true to form, I put more thought into the food than the logistics. Given the deliciousness and variety that we are bringing to you, I hope that you will be willing to overlook some of that. Stay tuned!
Wife, mother, baker, jam maker, hug dispenser, reader.