Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chilcano


Oh my.  What a gorgeous drink from an equally gorgeous cookbook. 

When this culinary treasure landed on my doorstep, I was hesitant to drag it into the kitchen for fear that I might slop some tomato sauce or coconut oil or just plain old water on it and ruin it. This may be a book for the living room table, not the kitchen table.


Shane Mitchell, food writer extraordinaire and Saveur contributing editor, fills the pages with beautifully written essays that rival the photography of James Fisher. Each of the ten chapters focuses on global culinary narratives, from the food cooked on the leitir (the autumnal sheep roundup) in Iceland to the meals cooked by refugees and migrants in the Calais Jungle. Committed to documenting the traditions of (as she writes in her introduction) "people who are firmly rooted in their culture and landscape, in some of the most isolated or marginal communities, where keeping the food chain vital remains a daily chore," she tells stories that "focus on rituals where hospitality plays a key role."

I could use more of this in my life.


I realize that what I am about to say may sound derivative, and let's just go ahead and admit it here--morsels and sauces is a food blog. That's all. 

However, I feel the need to say something else here. I think it's more and more important to find ways of connecting, of being inclusive, of glimpsing lives that are not our own, if only for an essay or a photograph, of opening ourselves up to something bigger than our individual selves. 

This is what I like about this book. It says that there is something to be gained in rooting ourselves in place, in time, in community. And I need my place and community a lot these days.


For whatever reason, I was drawn to the chapter on potato farming in Peru, an essay you can also find over here at Saveur. And what a punch this essay is, with its simple ending and elegant description of the food for the gods, of a connection to family and place and remembrance and honor. Add to that essay those gorgeous photographs that honor a person and a place and a culture and a life. You hardly need turn the page for a glimpse of a few recipes. 

But you'll be glad you did.


For, as much as you might wish to keep this book outside of the kitchen, you must cook from it, too. From a Roast Lamb Shoulder with Mushroom Gravy (from Iceland) to Chivito (Uraguay's answer to the hamburger), from Fried Rice Omelet (from Hawaii) to Cardamom Doughnuts (from Kenya), the recipes in here beg you to cook, to mix, to grill, to roast. 

But more than anything, the essays, photographs, and recipes beg you to stop long enough to cook, to gather around a family table and relish in this gift of a book.


I started simply with a potent cocktail, in part because I fancy a potent cocktail and in part because I did declare that this here blog needed more cocktails. And let me tell you, this is one cocktail for which you may wish to heed Mitchell's advice: save it for an afternoon "when you're not going anywhere fast." While this is a perfect summer drink, and we're about to enter into the California winter, let's remember that it's almost summer in Peru.


According to others, this traditional Peruvian cocktail is the result of tweaking a drink, the Buongiorno (a mixture of grappa, lime, and ginger beer), introduced in the 19th century by Italian immigrants. When Peruvians ran out of grappa, they substituted Pisco, and a new classic was born. 

Pisco is a Peruvian grape brandy, filled with a whole host of rules (cannot be wood aged, can be distilled only once, must rest for three months). And while it is an acquired taste, it's a taste I urge us all to acquire. Apparently Pisco was once quite popular among the Californian gold-mining set, but subsequently it fell out of fashion.  Nowadays, Pisco is enjoying a renaissance and bartenders are branching out from the Pisco sour and into a whole host of other Peruvian drinks. Enter the Chilcano.


I am looking forward to my upcoming dive into this book (I know those Cardamom Doughnuts will be coming my way). But I am relishing sipping on this potent cocktail as I peruse this gorgeous book. The husband and I often sit around the kitchen table with a plate of food or a tumbler of a drink and we thumb through cookbooks. We plan menus we will never serve and some that we will. We recall dinners with family and friends and we make plans for upcoming ones. 

Even in our little kitchen, we connect. 

Let's connect a little more these days.  And this book encourages us to do more of that--even if you don't cook a single recipe from within its covers. 

Now, that's a good book. 



I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.








Chilcano

Adapted from Far Afield

Yield:
2 Servings

Ingredients:
Ice cubes
1/2 cup Pisco
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1-2 Tbsp simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part boiling water, then chill)
3-4 drop Angostura bitters
1 tsp rose water
Ginger ale
2 lime rounds

Instructions:
1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix the Pisco and fresh lime juice. Stir in the simple syrup to taste. 

2. Then add the bitters and rose water. Shake until chilled. 

3.  Add 1 ice cube to each of 2 lowball glasses, strain in the chilled mixture, and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime round. 

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