70 Caribbean Recipes: Taste Sensations From The Tropics, by Rosamund Grant
Is there a large enough market for food from the Caribbean as a whole, and can islands as diverse as Cuba, Jamaica, and St. Martin/San Maarten be considered as part of the same regional cuisine? And is 70 dishes enough to deal with the wide variety of foods that one can find in the region as a whole? Obviously, this book could stand to be larger. After all, not too long ago this reader read and reviewed a book that contained more recipes than 70 dealing just with jerk recipes from Jamaica alone, not even taking into account the rest of the region. And there are some islands (like Cuba) which have a rich cuisine of their own that deserves entire volumes to deal with that this volume simply cannot do more than just scratch the surface of. But if you are looking for a sampling of a wide and interesting regional cuisine, this book is certainly worthwhile in that it has dishes that the reader may want to cook and will certainly want to eat, and that is enough to make this a very worthwhile book even if it is of course very incomplete, as it cannot help being.
This particular book is a relatively short one at about 100 large pages. The book begins with an introduction that describes the history as well as the influences of history and geography on the food of the region as a whole. The whole book, it should be noted, is richly photographed as one would expect. After that the author moves on to snacks and soups that show the influence of street food on the cuisines of the Caribbean as a whole. After that come a couple of chapters that discuss the dishes that are made from fish and shellfish on the one hand, as well as meat and poultry on the other. After these meat dishes are discussed the author gives a chapter on vegetarian dishes as well as salads. After that comes a selection of side dishes and grains that provide the bulk calories that people eat in addition to the main courses discussed previously. After this there is a chapter that focuses on desserts and drinks to finish the complete meals, after which there is a discussion on nutritional information as well as an index for the book as a whole.
The richness of the cuisine of the Caribbean comes, as one might imagine, from a few related factors. For one, there is the nature of the Caribbean itself and the food products it has provided to the world in its sugarcane and especially its bananas and plantains as well as those plants and animals that have been raised for local consumption. Added to the foods themselves are the spices that the area has in abundance as well as the foodways that have come from Europe, Africa, as well as East and South Asia, and even the Middle East that have blended together to allow for a great deal of creativity and flowering of local food traditions that have included the specific colonial traditions involved in each island as well as the region as a whole. To its credit, this book does credit to the regional mixtures of foodways that account for the Caribbean cuisines as a whole and the book is well-organized in a way that allows for the dishes selected to demonstrate a sample of the many foods not included that are part of the diverse cuisines of the Caribbean that deserve further exploration, as nearly every island in the Caribbean has a cuisine that is rich enough and diverse enough to warrant full volumes to cover its food.