The new star of the culinary galaxy is South Florida, declares The New York Times. And no wonder. Out of America's tropical melting pot comes an inventive cuisine bursting with flavor--and now Steven Raichlen, an award-winning food writer, shares the best of it in Miami Spice. With 200 recipes and firsthand reports from around the state, Miami Spice captures the irresistible convergence of Latin, Caribbean, and Cuban influences with Florida's cornucopia of stone crabs, snapper, plantains, star fruit, and other exotic native ingredients (most of which can be found today in supermarkets around the country).
Main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club's HomeStyle Books. Winner of a 1993 IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award.
In 10 years' time, says Raichlen, ``I've watched Miami blossom from a gastronomic backwater to a culinary hot spot.'' Here, Cuban, Nicaraguan, French Caribbean, Iberian, Chinese, Deep South and Jewish cuisines meet but remain distinct, each taking advantage of abundant and inexpensive tropical produce (and 12 months of barbecue weather a year), while avoiding others; Cuban and Nicaraguan kitchens, for instance, still ignore the ubiquitous seafood. Raichlen's lively immersion in this confusion of ethnic food introduces the traditional Caribbean starchy roots, such as yucca, yam and boniato, as well as the typical tropical fruits and recent exotic introductions, like the lychee nut. Also present: several formulas for preparing alligator--savory and healthy, but often tough--and even an address from which to mail-order the frozen meat. Raichlen's style is amiable and chatty, and procedures are detailed and sensitive (``gently simmer for 10 minutes, or until the oil begins to bead on the surface of the sauce. This indicates that the water has evaporated, concentrating the flavor of the sauce''). The thick volume conveys a sense of authenticity throughout, although the author sometimes reveals an ignorance of the historical development of Caribbean cuisines (i.e., the discussion of tamales reveals a Mexican bias).