Miami Spice: The New Florida Cuisine

Steven Raichlen, Author, Robin Zingone, Illustrator Workman Publishing $22.95 (348p) ISBN 978-1-56305-519-5
In 10 years' time, says Raichlen, ``I've watched Miami blossom from a gastronomic backwater to a culinary hot spot.'' Here, Cuban, Nicaraguan, French Caribbean, Iberian, Chinese, Deep South and Jewish cuisines meet but remain distinct, each taking advantage of abundant and inexpensive tropical produce (and 12 months of barbecue weather a year), while avoiding others; Cuban and Nicaraguan kitchens, for instance, still ignore the ubiquitous seafood. Raichlen's lively immersion in this confusion of ethnic food introduces the traditional Caribbean starchy roots, such as yucca, yam and boniato, as well as the typical tropical fruits and recent exotic introductions, like the lychee nut. Also present: several formulas for preparing alligator--savory and healthy, but often tough--and even an address from which to mail-order the frozen meat. Raichlen's style is amiable and chatty, and procedures are detailed and sensitive (``gently simmer for 10 minutes, or until the oil begins to bead on the surface of the sauce. This indicates that the water has evaporated, concentrating the flavor of the sauce''). The thick volume conveys a sense of authenticity throughout, although the author sometimes reveals an ignorance of the historical development of Caribbean cuisines (i.e., the discussion of tamales reveals a Mexican bias). (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
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