Eat Mesquite and More: A Cook­book for Sono­ran Desert Foods and Liv­ing

Desert Har­vesters

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction - MELISSA WUSKE

Rain­source Press (JAN­UARY) Soft­cover $34.95 (352pp) 978-0-692-93874-4 Di­verse recipes aptly con­vey both the bounty and the nat­u­ral beauty of the desert.

Eat Mesquite and More: A Cook­book for Sono­ran Desert Foods and Liv­ing is an invit­ing trib­ute to a re­gion and its nat­u­rally de­li­cious cui­sine.

Recipes fill the bulk of the book—nearly two hun­dred of them—but this book’s use­ful­ness and vi­tal­ity tran­scend sim­ple food prepa­ra­tion. Recipes are or­ga­nized by the desert in­gre­di­ent they fea­ture—in­clud­ing mesquite, prickly pear, acorn, and wolf­berry—and each sec­tion has a prac­ti­cal yet evoca­tive in­tro­duc­tion to the in­gre­di­ent’s use, fla­vor, health ben­e­fits, abil­i­ties, and lim­i­ta­tions.

These deep, even heart­felt, in­sights are at the book’s vi­tal core. Its in-depth un­der­stand­ings make it pos­si­ble for those out­side of Sono­ran tra­di­tions to suc­ceed in cook­ing with the book’s less fa­mil­iar in­gre­di­ents. Clos­ing es­says on liv­ing and eat­ing in place pro­vide a trans­for­ma­tive way to see any re­gion and cui­sine through new eyes.

Recipes were writ­ten and tested by con­trib­u­tors from across the re­gion. As a re­sult, the book is di­verse in its fla­vor and ex­per­tise, though all con­trib­u­tors are uni­fied in their love of desert food. Recipes are easy to fol­low, in­clud­ing all of the ba­sic in­for­ma­tion—quick de­scrip­tions, in­gre­di­ents, in­struc­tions, and yield pro­jec­tions— that are needed.

Head­ings call out the wild in­gre­di­ents con­tained in each recipe, the ap­pro­pri­ate har­vest sea­son for them, and the culi­nary tra­di­tion that the recipes draw from. All con­tain wild in­gre­di­ents rooted in the Sono­ran Desert, but many draw from fla­vor palates from around the globe (such as Prickly Pear Borscht).

Ev­ery meal of the day and part of a meal is cov­ered—con­sider Mesquite Ice Cream for dessert—and there are even recipes for in­gre­di­ents, such as Iron­wood Flour. Help­ful icons call out dishes that are gluten-free, so­lar cooked, raw, and ve­gan.

Many of the in­gre­di­ents will be tough to find out­side of the re­gion, though some, like chia, are widely avail­able and oth­ers may be found in spe­cialty mar­kets. Im­ages, in­clud­ing pho­tos and sketches, are clear and vi­brantly col­or­ful. They aptly con­vey both the food and the nat­u­ral beauty of the desert.

In Eat Mesquite and More, culi­nary ad­ven­tur­ers and those who love the Sono­ran Desert will find the en­tice­ment and con­fi­dence they need to make the most of desert pro­duce—for their palates, for their health, and for the desert it­self.

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