cover image Bistro Latino: Home Cooking Fired Up with the Flavors of Latin America

Bistro Latino: Home Cooking Fired Up with the Flavors of Latin America

Rafael Palomino. William Morrow & Company, $25 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15503-2

Restaurateur Palomino (with the assistance of food writer and editor Moskin) comes up with some pretty wacky flavor combinations in this Latin-American fusion cookbook. Palomino is a native of Colombia, and the ""straight"" Colombian recipes, like those for Cheese Arepas (biscuits so ubiquitous in Colombia that teething babies gum them) and Bogotano Chicken Soup with Capers and Corn, are the most promising here. When Palomino mixes and matches, however, the results are often less appealing. Goat Cheese and Basil Tamales and Whipped Potatoes with Black Beans overreach to incorporate Latin ingredients in the cuisines of other cultures; if the instructions to rinse the arborio rice to be used in Sea Bass and Saffron Risotto are followed, the dish is a risotto in name only. Pan-Roasted Tuna Steaks with Crisp Yuca Crust are made not with fresh yuca but with packaged Terra Chips. Desserts such as Guava Pancakes and Espresso-Almond Brownies are less complicated finales (Palomino justifies the inclusion of chocolate desserts, which are not particularly popular in Latin America, by pointing out that the Mayans drank chocolate in A.D. 400). When sticking to simpler fare like Peruvian Roast Chicken with Purple Potatoes and many of the minimalist recipes in the section on grilling, Palomino is a more reliable guide than when he strains for some nuevo Latino flair. (Sept.)