A Review of Not Just Tacos by Shirley Solis

Tacos and More!

It is ironic that I am reviewing a cookbook for HST. I actually don’t like to cook (Yes, yes, there are homeschooling moms who don’t like to cook!). That makes me the perfect candidate to explore this cookbook. My husband loves to cook and enjoys reading cookbooks. But we live in Texas, so Shirley Solis’s new cookbook Not Just Tacos: A Journey into the World of Authentic Latin American Cuisine (Avoley Publishing, 2012) intrigued me. The title caught the attention of this less-enthusiastic home chef and was a beginning attraction.

Not Just Tacos is more than a cookbook—another reason for me to like it! As the subtitle implies, it is a peek at foods from twenty-two Latin American countries, a bit about each country, and information about each dish. The introduction gives a brief history and geography lesson about Latin America, and a wonderful two-page spread shares customs and information about Latinos for “gringos” who read the book. Solis’s warm, Ecuadorian personality comes through the writing and even the recipes, making the reader feel that she (or he) can execute these possibly unfamiliar dishes with ease. Your children will love helping make these dishes and learning about other countries through the food and culture.

Several pages of explanation about traditional Latin American spices and a page with US to metric conversions of weights and measures are helpful (but all recipes are in US measurements). Now we come to the recipes. (Oh, yes, this is a cookbook!) The journey begins in Mexico with tacos—authentic tacos, not the Taco Bell type. That helped me begin with something I could pronounce! Traveling next to El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and on to seventeen other Latin American countries, you find two to six recipes from each country, with only French Guiana having just one recipe.

Lastly, I loved the book because almost every recipe included a beautiful, full-color photo of the dish, pronunciation of the name, how many the recipe serves, prep time, and total time to make the dish. Robbie van Dalen’s photography makes the book delightful to explore and, as Solis describes in her Acknowledgements, it is “amazing photography so vivid it makes everyone hungry!”

I tried my hand at empanadas because I had eaten them for the first time recently at a Peruvian restaurant that opened near our home. Mine, made from Solis’s recipe, were every bit as good as those served in the restaurant. I think we will be eating more Latin American cuisine and giving this cookbook as gifts. Purchase a copy of this amazing more-than-a-cookbook at the author’s website or at Amazon.com for an amazing Latin American adventure in food. Buen Provecho (or bon appétit for non-Latin Americans)!

Marilyn Rockett is a veteran homeschool mom of four grown sons, six grandsons, one granddaughter, and one great-grandson. She has mentored moms for almost thirty years. Her book, Homeschooling at the Speed of Life, provides organizational helps and encouragement. Visit her website for information.

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