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BOOK REVIEW: Lima: The Cookbook by Virgilio Martinez

| 18 November 2015 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Lima: The Cookbook by Virgilio Martinez

Hachette Australia
October 2015
Hardback, $39.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar



Lima by Virgilio Martinez

Featuring an abundance of ‘superfoods’ such as quinoa and chia, and a
glorious emphasis on fresh vegetables, this book covering Peruvian home cooking will doubtless be a hit with everyone up to date with current food trends. Crucially, there is a lot of really interesting styles and techniques in this cuisine which will appeal to broader audience as well.

Virgilio Martinez comes to us circuitously. The Peruvian national
skateboarding champion in the ‘90s, and a former law student, he discovered a passion for cooking accidentally and quickly dropped out of university to pursue this new adventure through Canada, Bogota, Peru and finally London, England, where he has opened two Lima restaurants,collecting one Michelin star thus far – the only Peruvian restaurant to have achieved this honour.

Peruvian cuisine remains relatively unknown throughout Australia – a cult favourite at best. Martinez’s gentle instruction and vividly beautiful creations may help address that.

Snacks (sweet potato cubes with chamomile honey) and cocktails (the famous Pisco Sour and variations) open his lovingly curated book, and the first thing we notice is the attention to detail in the recipe writing, and the gloriously loving photography which makes every dish jump off the page.

As close to a wholefoods cuisine as I am aware of, Peruvian food tips
heavily towards fresh ingredients, often barely cooked vegetables, and it isn’t afraid to surprise us. Take a succession of virgin cocktails made with Tiger’s Milk: the liquor for the preparation of ceviche. It pushes the Australian palate out of its comfort zone and is surprisingly refreshing.

What follows is a dizzying array of brightly coloured dips and pastes, a mind boggling choice of ceviche options (scallop & tomato; gouper & chilli; even courgette & baby carrot), vegetarian, meat & seafood courses, and even some funky breads (sweet potato brioche; red quinoa sourdough; hearts of palm & garlic focaccia).

The desserts section is similarly left of our western centre, and all the more intriguing for it. Caramelised banana with star anise; chilli and caramel suspiro (a kind of meringue); and quinoa and goat’s milk pudding with fresh berries.

Martinez’s LIMA may well test the boundaries of our established tastes, but in this over-processed and barely sustainable world, this is exactly the sort of food we should be leaning more and more upon. Experimentation with Peruvian cuisines and their ilk can only lead to more heirloom and healthier options being introduced into our own cuisine in a fusion style, and this book is the perfect place to start that exploration.

Category: Book Reviews

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