Exploring Latin American cuisine through the Birmingham Public Library's Catalog

By Cheyenne Trujillo|Birmingham Public Library PR department

¡Feliz Mes de la Hispanidad!

Hispanic Heritage month is here until October 15. This month is dedicated to appreciating the various Latine (La-teen-ae) countries, culture, and people that shaped the United States of America.

One of my favorite ways to connect with my heritage is through food.

I did not have the opportunity to grow up with my Mexican grandparents, sfamily visits to Flint, Michigan always felt estranged by language barriersWalking into their home was like walking into another world that I did not belong in.

But all of those anxieties gave way to my hunger as the smell of my grandmother’s arroz con pollo filled the house, and we filled up the table with food, plates, and people.

The tamalada is still my favorite part of the Christmas season even though my grandparents have passed.

Gathering together and organizing an assembly line of people to make dozens of tamales is a frustrating and fun tradition I look forward to every winter.

Cooking is the outlet that I explore my heritage through and my favorite way to engage in different cultures.

And I am happy to share that the Birmingham Public Library catalog (BPL) offers a nice selection of cookbooks featuring cuisine from different Latin American countries.

Celebrate this Hispanic Heritage month with a feast from these books found in the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, including all BPL locations: 

The Food of Oaxaca: Recipes and Stories from Mexico's Culinary Capital by Alejandro Olmedo

Olmedo's cookbook features 50 ancestral and original recipes.

The book's recipes follow Olmedo from the region where he grew up all the way to his famed restaurant, Casa Oaxaca.

Dispersed throughout the book are insightful essays on ingredients, kitchen tools, and local traditions that help readers understand what makes these dishes Mexican.

Another unique feature to this book is Olmedo's best restaurant recommendations in Oaxaca for travelers (besides his restaurants).

Colombiana: A Rediscovery of Recipes & Rituals from the Soul of Colombia by Mariana Velasquez

Velasquez is a recipe developer and food stylist whose work takes her into kitchens all across the world—even the kitchen and garden of the White House.

Going back to her roots in Bogotá, Velasquez wrote a cookbook sharing traditional recipes of Colombia that also teaches you how to create the perfect dining atmosphere.

This cookbook is worth checking out for the photos alone. 

The Fire of Peru: Recipes and Stories from My Peruvian Kitchen by Ricardo Zarate

Lima-born, Los Angeles chef and restaurateur Ricardo Zarate is known as "the godfather of Peruvian cuisine."

His cookbook focuses on Peru's cuisine and its roots in indigenous South American, Japanese, Chinese, and European dishes.

With 100 recipes to eat and drink, this book also features vibrant photos and personal anecdotes on Peru from Zarate. 

The Cooking of Brazil by Matthew Locricchio

Locricchio, a Gourmand World Cookbook Award winner, created a series of cookbooks intended for young cooks, including one on the cuisine of Brazil.

Create memories with your younger chefs by trying these Brazilian recipes.

cocinando para latinos con diabetes by Olga V. Fuste

Fuste combined her food and nutrition education with her experience working with Latine families to create a cookbook that would balance the need for healthy food and respect for traditions.

Her bilingual cookbook cocinando para latinos con diabetes features flavorful recipes in English and Spanish that meet the American Diabetes Association nutrition guidelines.

Enjoy traditional recipes without sacrificing your health.

If cooking is not an enjoyable activity for you, Fiesta Birmingham is Saturday, September 25, and they can do all the cooking for you!

Fiesta is one of the largest celebrations of Hispanic and Latine culture in Alabama with plenty of performances, art, and food vendors to enjoy.

Children twelve and under get in for free, and adult tickets are only ten dollars.

Make sure to check out the BPL Southside Branch Library’s art programs for Hispanic Heritage month and our calendar to see what else is going on at the BPL this month.