My Sweet Mexico
"Rare is the cookbook that successfully infuses scholarly research with the pure joy of food, but this collection, focusing on the sweets of Mexico, nails it. Gerson, a pastry chef (Eleven Madison Park; Rosa Mexicano) has dutifully catalogued the confections of her native Mexico-many of which are endangered species in the age of industrialized food. The introduction and individual chapter essays trace sweets to their ethnic origins, detailing how sugar production, holiday symbolism and technology has impacted their evolution. Indeed, an entire chapter is devoted to the specific sweets-pumpkinseed candy, chestnut flan and, ironically enough, wedding cookies-traditionally made in convents. American readers who have only encountered the occasional tres leches cake in a Mexican restaurant will be stunned by the breadth and depth of recipes here, ranging from coffee-flavored corn cookies to guava caramel pecan rolls and hibiscus ice pops, all culled from Gerson's family, friends and generous strangers. Gerson showcases the rainbow of fruits (soursop, arrayan, zapote) and special equipment that are indigenous to the country, offering guides to working with fresh coconut, making spiced chocolate tablets and wrapping marzapanes. Gerson's vivid descriptions, exacting instruction and obvious passion for her subject matter make this volume a substantial read about the most tempting indulgences. Photos. (Oct.)"
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