Comments: Oh my gosh, what a gorgeous book! Oh my gosh, what a frustrating book!
The book covers much of the history and geography of Brazil through its food. It is filled with lots of text and the most gorgeous photographs (many taken by the author's husband). You wouldn't say the recipes play a secondary role, but they are no more important than the coffee-table aspect.
They are also the source of our frustration. There are recipes where exotic ingredients are explained. There are recipes where substitutions are offered for some exotic ingredients. And on the whole, there are not that many exotic ingredients – you will be able to make many of these recipes without working too hard to find this or that ingredient.
But there are recipes that feature one of more exotic ingredients that don't tell you what it is! There probably has been a reference to it in the text about the region, but how do you find it? Do you reread the entire chapter when you just want to cook one recipe? We are totally flummoxed by the recipes for Giló Puff Pastry Tart and Salad with Caramelized Giló. At least in the second recipe you are given a hint – "you may replace gilós with small eggplants."
There is a chapter at the front of the book that explains some of the major Brazilian ingredients – manioc, hearts of palm, dendê palm oil, cachaça, pequi – but where is giló? (Giló, it turns out, is also known as scarlet eggplant, is a relative of the tomato and eggplant, is a descendant of the Ethiopian eggplant, and is as likely to be spelled with an initial J as with a G.) How much research should you have to do to prepare a recipe?
The recipes also assume you know how to cook. The chapters highlight Brazil at the Table, Brazilian ingredients, the cooking of the Amazon, Bahia, Minas Gerais, and Cerrado, the King's (Portuguese) Table, the immigrants' table, traditional ingredients used in new ways, and a list of places in the United States to track down Brazilian ingredients.
With a one-page glossary, this would be an excellent book. (A map really wouldn't hurt, either….)