By David Sterling
University of Texas Press, $60.00, 576 pages
Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition is the most beautiful and comprehensive cookbook this reviewer has seen. David Sterling makes it clear from the very beginning that the cuisine he is focused on is Yucatán, not Mexican. The Yucatán peninsula has culminated in this unique cuisine due to it isolated located and has been influenced by Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, Lebanon, Cuba, Africa and the Caribbean. Sterling educates the reader about the Yucatán with a short history lesson, colorful maps and an explanation of the markets. Chapter two explores ingredients that are native to the region. Fruits and vegetables are given in their botanical, English and Mayan names. He describes the item and shares its culinary uses. There are over 380 colorful photos on every page of this book that show the beauty of the region and its people. The book is then divided by the Monte, Milpa, and Celstun (or meat, farm and shore). The remainder of the book is sectioned by town or area, since each region has some unique cooking styles and flavors.
Sterling has amassed an exhaustive expedition of the Yucatán with its bold and subtle flavors, unique blend of ingredients and distinctive people. The recipes are easy to follow with a list of ingredients, steps, yield and serving instructions. The book closes with preparation basics, a resources list and an index listed by category, as well as, a general index. Whether you want to learn how to cook this cuisine or just want to take a trip (without the airplane ride) this book is worth the effort to consume.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff