Cuba Cocina!

Joyce LaFray, Author, Barbara Kafka, Introduction by
Joyce LaFray, Author, Barbara Kafka, Introduction by William Morrow Cookbooks $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-688-11067-3
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-06-078585-7
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Read this book for an insider's urbane perspective on Cuban cuisine-and for its spicy ``Floribbean'' creations. Food writer and television-cooking-show host Lafray has written several guides to Florida restaurants-and her cookbook also could serve as a culinary guide, since almost one-third of the recipes come from professional chefs and restaurateurs from both the U.S. and Cuba. Yet Lafray's book is not a paean to celebrity chefs so much as a chronicle of the influences of Cuban culture on American cooking, a trend she invokes frequently as ``nuevo Cubano.'' The New Cuban style calls for fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, combined with meats and fish into lighter dishes than might have been traditional in old Cuba. For example, black beans may be made unctuous with creamy lard and garnished with crispy pork cracklings-or cooked with olive oil, instead. A practical tone makes Lafray's recipes seem unintimidating: unusual ingredients are defined, and tips on handling and preparations are found in almost all recipe prefaces. Enthusiasm can make Lafray sound a bit repetitious, but she demonstrates the style and flair of Cuban cooking and brings recipes of talented Cuban and Floridian chefs to a wider audience. (Sept.)
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