Coconuts & Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South

Von Diaz. Univ. of Florida, $28 (156p) ISBN 978-0-8130-5665-4
Diaz grew up shuttled between Puerto Rico and Atlanta, and her appreciation for both cultures and their rich culinary histories is showcased in this delightful collection of Puerto Rican comfort food recipes. Dishes include catfish, corn, and white bean chowder; coconut grits; fried doughnuts in cinnamon syrup; Diaz’s grandmother’s rum cake; and, for drinks, a coconut eggnog, as well as a Sofrito Bloody Mary, made with cilantro and green onion. Purists may scoff at some of her choices (the rum cake, for example, calls for instant pudding mix), but Diaz argues that it’s much more important to remember the people and settings of memorable meals rather than obsess about absolute authenticity. Alongside the recipes, Diaz also shares stories from her family history, an often tumultuous one grounded by memories of food prepared by and for loved ones (her grandmother, who inspires Diaz’s cooking, left the Dominican Republic for Alabama, then moved to Puerto Rico). The recipes are solid and imaginative, but it’s Diaz’s gift for storytelling that shines. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/05/2018
Release date: 02/15/2018
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