Our latest Cook the Books Club selection for February/March, a memoir, Where I Come From - Life Lessons from a Latino Chef, has been a truly spicy ride with Aaron Sanchez. Also a sometimes rocky ride, as his life has had its share of ups and downs. He is a chef, well known TV personality and the author of several cookbooks. Everyone seemed to get into the spirit of the occasion, and we are now looking at a wonderful feast of delectable inspirations gleaned from our reading. Come along and enjoy the fiesta, as there is something for everyone here.
First in this time was Cathy of Delaware Girl Eats, who put together two versions of Swiss Chard and Beans, one from her grandfather and one from our book. Actually, they both sound excellent. Cathy quoted a passage from the memoir she found interesting, Aaron says, “When I come up with a new dish, a combination of hand-picked ingredients that I’d invented and written down, researched and painstakingly put together with meticulous care, or even something I’d come up with on the fly – and it worked perfectly in the plate and on the palate - every single one of those memories is a moment of magic. Of fulfilment. Of pride and of purpose.” Perhaps this is what drives him to continue to pursue cooking even as a nationally-known TV figure. " She had mixed feelings about the book though, saying that it "contained interesting tidbits but also lots of swearing and trivial information."
Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures, arrived next bringing a batch of tasty looking Chicken Wings. She was going to make Aaron's version, but remembered having her mom's recipe, which she had never tried, so went with that. She enjoyed the book and says, that after reading it, "I was impressed. The memoir was well-written and gave a lot of insight into Sanchez’s past. It gave the chef I’d seen on Chopped a lot more dimension. I feel like I will watch old episodes of that show with fresh eyes."
Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, whipped up a fantastic sounding batch of Fire and Ice Ceviche, her version of Aaron's recipe. She clearly enjoyed the book, saying "his story was absolutely wonderful." And that his writing "blends together culinary history, food commentary, and personal experience just as he would blend together a multitude of ingredients to create a delicious dish."
I Claudia, of Honey from Rock, got inspired right from the get go, and came in fairly early with Aaron's Hominy Stew, a tasty pot of Sautéed Hominy with Pico de Gallo and Oregano. The book was certainly inspiring from a cooking standpoint, even though some of his ups and downs in life, like many of our lives, were sad and mistakes were undoubtedly made. A truly honest memoir. But the FOOD!! And, the creative, innovative restaurants where he worked and later owned. To die for!
Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm made us a spicy Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts Salad also from Aaron's memoir. She says, "... you don't know the real Aaron Sanchez until you hear his story in his own words. I have always liked Aaron and the way he interacted with others, always being kind and gentle in a world where yelling and screaming obscenities is often the norm. Reading his story makes me wish I could have an opportunity to meet him in person and chat over a glass of rose which seems to be his preferred wine."
Next up was Debra of Eliot's Eats with a batch of really incredible sounding burritos - Uncle Tio’s Famous Chile Con Carne Colorado-Style Burritos. Oh Yes!! She says, "Sánchez doesn’t romanticize the trials and tribulations of working in and owning restaurants or his Food Network celebrity rise. In fact, he attributes the financial fluidity of some of his restaurants to the extra income coming in from his FN gigs. I also appreciated his honest narration."
Deb of Kahakai Kitchen arrived with an unusual Mexican pasta dish, Sopa Seca, (dry soup) adapted from Aaron Sanchez's Food Network connection. I think this will be hitting our dinner table very soon! A quick and easy but delicious riff. Deb remarked that she had always liked Aaron Sanchez from his TV shows, and, with regard to the book, "I found myself more interested in his account of the early Food Network and the early "chefs as celebrities" days and his restaurant experiences than I did his personal life--especially his teenage machismo stories, but he does spin a good story."
And, last but not least, Simona brought us a refreshing (after all the spicy dishes) Salad of Roasted beets, Blood Orange, Avocado and Daikon. She, along with another of our contributors, had more of a connection with Zarela, Aaron's mother, and noted that though "It was interesting to read her story told by her son", none of his recipes were "along the lines of what I cook".
I hope you all enjoy sampling these tasty creations from our food roundup of this Cook the Books Club selection. Next up is Honeysuckle Season by Mary Ellen Taylor, which is being hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. Be sure to check out the book and join in with us. The deadline will be May 31st. Open to all! For more information see the Guidlines page.