Throughout history, countless sons and daughters have learned their family history and culture while clutching the apron strings of a parent, who talks and teaches while cooking a meal. Learning who you are while breathing in the aromas of heritage recipes is a powerful combination. Our food becomes a part of who we are in more than a nutritional sense.
As we enter Illyanna Maisonet’s kitchen, she offers us her apron strings and begins to tell us her stories. As she talks, she’ll prepare over 90 recipes, while teaching us about her family’s incredible food. As we are taught how to blend flavors, we also learn why certain ingredients are used and why others aren’t. We learn about Puerto Rico’s food chain – even the broken and rusty links. Don’t let these delicious foods and the beautiful country they come from lead you to believe that her story is pure bliss, though. Maisonet says, “We did not have the privilege of cooking for pleasure or joy. Our story is one of generational poverty and trauma with glimpses of pride and laughter, all of which have been the catalysts of ample good food in my life.”
Because these recipes were hard-won over many years by a crafty, determined family, I feel grateful and honored to be able to prepare them in my own kitchen.
I’ll be filing this review under multiple categories – cookbooks of course, but also non-fiction history, memoir, and Women’s literature. It deserves to be read for a wide variety of reasons.
My thanks to author Illyanna Maisonet, Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.