cover image The SalviSoul Cookbook: Salvadoran Recipes and the Women Who Preserve Them

The SalviSoul Cookbook: Salvadoran Recipes and the Women Who Preserve Them

Karla Tatiana Vasquez. Ten Speed, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-984861-42-9

“Food is an anchor and safety net when documentation, distance, and language are challenges,” writes debut author Vasquez in this earnest cookbook and foodways study of El Salvador. Conversations with 33 Salvadoran women interspersed with recipes from them and others make this valuable as sociology. Interviewees include Maricela, who sells street food from a stall in Los Angeles, and the author’s late grandmother Mamá Lucy, who was known for her cow’s hoof soup. Nourishing and satisfying dishes include flatbread-like Salvadoran tortillas and flor de izote (yuca flowers) with eggs. Variations abound: El Salvador’s “national dish,” pupusas, can be stuffed with three different fillings, and the fruity beverage ensalada is endlessly adaptable. Per the book’s title, these are soulful dishes linked to home and family; for example, the recipe for fried cheese-stuffed chayote is from the author’s mother. Main courses include rooster simmered in chicha, a fermented drink made with pineapple peels, and crabs in a pumpkin seed sauce. Desserts run along the simple lines of charred whole plantains and eggless bread pudding. The project originated online, and occasionally the writing has the inelegant feel of a social media post, but the recipes are clear—impressively so, considering they hail from a variety of sources—and the context is heartfelt and fascinating. This is a valuable work of cultural preservation. (Apr.)