Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tamalitos: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem

Written by Jorge Argueta
Illustrated by Domi

*A Junior Library Guild Selection

In his new cooking poem for young children, Jorge Argueta encourages more creativity and fun in the kitchen as he describes how to make tamalitos from corn masa and cheese, wrapped in cornhusks.

The book opens with an homage to corn — white, yellow, blue, purple, red and black — in Maya mythology the first men and women are even said to be made of corn. It has been an important food for people in Central America for centuries, and one of the most delicious things you can make using corn masa and husks are tamalitos, or little tamales.

In simple, poetic language, Argueta shows young cooks how to mix and knead the dough before dropping a spoonful into a cornhusk, wrapping it up and then steaming the little package. He once again makes cooking a full sensory experience, beating on a pot like a drum, dancing the corn dance, delighting in the smell of corn… And at the end, he suggests inviting the whole family to come and enjoy the delicious tamalitos “made of corn with love.”

Domi’s vivid paintings, featuring a sister and her little brother making tamalitos together, are a perfect accompaniment to the colorful text.

The author, Jorge Argueta, holding his Cooking Poem Series

Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem

Guacamole originated in Mexico with the Aztecs and has long been popular in North America, especially in recent years due to the many health benefits of avocados. This version of the recipe is easy to make, calling for just avocados, limes, cilantro and salt. A little girl chef dons her apron, singing and dancing around the kitchen as she shows us what to do. Argueta’s gift in seeing beauty, magic and fun in everything around him makes this book a treasure — avocados are like green precious stones, salt falls like rain, cilantro looks like a little tree and the spoon that scoops the avocado from its skin is like an excavating tractor.

Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem

Award-winning author Jorge Argueta treats young readers to a bilingual recipe/poem for the classic Latin American version of rice pudding with cinnamon. From sprinkling the rice into the pot to adding a waterfall of white milk followed by cinnamon sticks, salt stars, and sugar snow, Argueta’s recipe is both easy to follow and poetic. Lively illustrations by highly acclaimed Brazilian artist Fernando Vilela feature an enthusiastic young cook who finds no end of joy in making and then slurping up the rice pudding with his family. In Argueta’s world, cooking not only satisfies hunger with delicious food but also provides an opportunity for all the senses — and the imagination — to experience joy and fulfillment. This book is wonderful family fun for those who already love rice pudding as well as for those tasting it for the first time.

Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup

 For people who have left their homeland for a new country, comfort foods from home take on a huge emotional importance. This delightful poem teaches readers young and old how to make a heartwarming, tummy-filling black bean soup, from gathering the beans, onions, and garlic to taking little pebbles out of the beans to letting them simmer till the luscious smell indicates it’s time for supper. Jorge Argueta’s vivid poetic voice and Rafael Yockteng’s vibrant illustrations make preparing this healthy and delicious Latino favorite an exciting, almost magical experience.