cover image Please Wait to Be Tasted: The Lil’ Deb’s Oasis Cookbook

Please Wait to Be Tasted: The Lil’ Deb’s Oasis Cookbook

Carla Kaya Perez-Gallardo, Hannah Black, and Wheeler. Princeton Architectural, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-1-64896-025-3

In 2016, Perez-Gallardo and Black took over a diner in Hudson, N.Y., and began slinging “tropical comfort” food on a menu that oftentimes includes nonfood items like a five-dollar Spanish ballad sung tableside. Like the restaurant, this joyful collection has personality to spare. The tone is playfully provocative, with loosely organized chapters tagged “Arousal” and “Climax,” and suggestive photos that border on NSFW. That said, the authors take their dishes seriously. Instructions for crafting tamales with a shiitake filling are as thorough as they are encouraging (“Find beauty in the imperfection”), and surprising flavor combinations abound in such recipes as seared tuna with Vietnamese-inspired grape dipping sauce, and a tamarind sauce that offsets the sweetness of pork marinated in dulce de leche. Elsewhere, an eye-catching ambrosia salad sees pineapple, avocado, and radish slices shingled on a plate. Cultures cross willy-nilly: a slow-roasted beef shank, for instance, is accompanied by a combination of “mole negro and bordelaise,” while an ice cream sundae is generously topped with Burmese-style fried bananas. Thoughtful wine-pairing advice—“A good frizzante rosé is the ideal ‘yes and’ wine for any fried-food moment”—is sprinkled throughout, alongside wacky wine poems and tips for the lovelorn. The result is a cheeky work that’s got as much “chutzpah” as it does culinary expertise. (June)