Cocina Nicaraguense [cookbook] (Book Review)

Cocina Nicaraguense [cookbook] (Book Review)

"Cocina Nicaraguense - Un Descubrimiento Gastronomico". Compiled and edited by a team at "Asociacion de Amistad Hispano-Nicaraguense"; published by Agualarga Editores, Madrid; #8495088339, 255 pages; no edition listed, but this is perhaps the second, since some other works citing this one list it with 215 pages, not 255 as is found here; no year listed, but based on other sources it is either 2000 or 2001; no price listed, but was once commonly sold in the U.S. for $16-26, new. All text is in Spanish.

Thankfully, the compilers and cooks know their jobs better than the editor, graphic designer, and publisher. A somewhat curious title, but the book is really rather interesting. It is often dirt-cheap used. It can be had in the U.S. for a few dollars, and is widely available in the capitals of Costa Rica ($20) and Honduras ($14); I don't recall seeing it in Nicaragua, but I have to assume I just didn't notice it when out and about.

It is printed on good quality art stock paper with a sewn binding. The downside is that it is not illustrated; the upside is that none of the 255 pages are "wasted" on advertisements, notices, incidentals, fillers, etc. The actual text pages run p.25-p.255, and there is at least one recipe on each page. There is a brief glossary, a guide to abbreviations, and 4-page prologue by Gloria Rodriquez de Reparaz, President of Asosciacion de Amistad Hispano-Nicaraguense.

The book focuses on the food/taste legacy of pre-Colombian peoples in what is now the greater Nicaraguan region. All said, it is an excellent collection of recipes. Don't look for most of them on or as the menu at any restaurant in Nicaragua; you would need to visit quite a few establishments before you came across, "Palomas con Narajnas", etc. (but most entries are hardly this esoteric). The same is basically true for Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc., but it often seems to be even more true of Nicaragua. If you want to eat from the real "Cocina Nigaraguense", then you need to have a Nicaraguan do it for you in their or your home, or do it yourself - and if that is what you want this is a very good starting point.

The book is divided up with each chapter representing a "food stuff". The compilers take turns with the different food types / chapters. The chapter titles, pages, and authors are listed below. As you can see, the book is surprisingly deep when it comes to Bocas and Dulces, and it should be noted that the concluding “platos typicos” section lives up to the indigenes moniker, and several meals are armadillo-, iguana-, deer-, and turtle-based (though these entries are not representative of the book as a whole):

C1, Recetas Basicas (pp.25-34) / Gloria Rodriquez de Reparaz;

C2, Bocas (pp.35-62) / Thesalia Baltodano Guttierrez;

C3, Ensaladas (pp.61-74) / Nelly Habed Lobos & Violeta Chamorro;

C4 Sopas (pp.75-86) / Nelly Habed Lobos & Violeta Chamorro;

C5, Verduras (pp.87-104) / Thesalia Baltodano Guttierrez;

C6 Arroces y Legumbres (pp.105-116) / Elisa Salvador Zuloaga;

C7, Pescados y Mariscos (pp.117-136) / Gloria Rodriquez de Reparaz;

C8, Pollo y Aves (pp.137-158) / Angelica Vivas de Uhagon;

C9, Carnes (pp.159-190) / Gloria Rodriquez de Reparaz;

C10, Salsas (pp.191-198) / Angelica Vivas de Uhagon;

C11, Dulces (pp.199-230) / Mary Carmen Santander de Sotomayor;

C12, Refrescos (pp.231-242) / Thesalia Baltodano Guttierrez;

C13, Platos Tipicos Indigenes (pp.243-254) / Gloria Rodriquez de Reparaz.