A Celebration of Tropical Cooking—125 Recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands

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Pub Date 12 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 11 Mar 2024

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An intimate reflection on tropical island cooking's bold flavors and big stories, with 125 recipes, from celebrated food writer Von Diaz.

The islands spanning the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans are remarkable places, sharing dozens of ingredients and cooking techniques, including marinating, pickling and fermentation, braising and stewing, frying, grilling and smoking, and steaming and in-ground roasting. Bold flavors drip from the edges of each dish with tastes that represent stories of resistance, persistence, and wisdom passed down from generation to generation.

This narrative cookbook by writer, documentary producer, and author Von Diaz travels across oceans and nations to uplift the shared ancestral cooking techniques of these islands in more than 125 recipes, including intimate profiles of the historical context of each technique, stories from islanders, and step-by-step guides for recreating them at home.

Recipes include:

  • Coco Bread from Jamaica
  • Arroz con Jueyes (Stewed Crab Rice) from Puerto Rico
  • Masikita (Papaya-Marinated Beef Skewers) from Madagascar
  • Bebek Betutu (Roasted Duck in Banana Leaf) from Indonesia
  • Lechon Kawali (Crispy Fried Pork Belly) from the Philippines

Bright citrus and vinegars, verdant herbs, slow-cooked and smoky grilled meats, fresh seafood, aromatic rice, and earthy root vegetables: These flavors, found in the meals and recipes across these island nations pair remarkably well together, despite distance and cultural differences. The ingredients and deep-rooted cooking techniques in each of these recipes typify the harmonious, synchronous spirit found in each culture's unique cuisines. Even amid environmental chaos and food insecurity, islanders cook in ways that are soul nourishing and flavorful.

Islas is about preserving the wisdom, values, and resilience of the people who live in some of the most volatile, vulnerable places on this planet. Each recipe, an archive of strategies for persistence, creativity, and ingenuity, provides a path for cooking delicious food. But above all, these stories and recipes acknowledge that cooking delicious food for others is always a selfless act.

An intimate reflection on tropical island cooking's bold flavors and big stories, with 125 recipes, from celebrated food writer Von Diaz.

The islands spanning the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781797215242
PRICE $35.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 15 members

Featured Reviews

I want to thank Netgalley and the author for gifting me the ebook.
Beautiful photos of islands etc. There is not really any photos of the food. I wish they would have done that. These recipes absolutely sound delicious and fresh. The book is stuffed full with instructions that I didn't know before. So I cannot wait to study more and try some of these recipes.

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GORGEOUS. Excited to make every single recipe. The images, the descriptions, the amazing individuals. Truly fantastic and beautiful.

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I loved the whole idea of this cookbook!

Presenting recipes and dishes from "a way of life" (rather than by county/region) is very fresh and innovative. I also liked that recipes are sectioned by the manner of cooking or preparation and not by main ingredients - again, very innovative!

I just wish that there are more variations to sweets/snacks/dessert recipes, like steamed, fried or grilled rice cakes or fruit.

Nevertheless, I am going to place a pre-order for this cookbook! It is my first time to come across such an original cookbook, both in terms of subject, recipes and recipe presentation.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC!

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This is an absolutely beautiful cookbook. The recipes in it are right up my alley too. They ate beautiful, healthy and vibrant. I also love how unique and original the ideas in this cookbook are. I feel like a lot of cookbooks have very similar recipes but this one definitely takes on recipes that I havent come across in other books.

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Interesting recipes. Lots of good information. I only wish there was a picture of each dish. That always inspires me to make a dish after I’ve seen a beautiful photo of the meal.

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I love the visuals and information in this book! It’s packed with recipes and history. Some sections look harder or more expensive then others to make which might make it hard for the average person to make or have access to some ingredients, but its awesome addition to any cookbook collection!

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This book is a 10/10 not oy because of the delicious recipes, but because the gorgeous photographs! I felt like I took a vacation while flipping through.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

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Von Diaz remains one of the foremost authorities on Puerto Rican and Caribbean cooking. But this cookbook, in particular, is a warm blast of island color, making me reminisce of a time when I lived in an eternal summer with tropical bounty all around me. Those photos!

And the stories! Most cookbooks have forgettable author remembrances or lectures on food. Diaz has interviewed women from islands around the world, like a girl-empowerment leader in Guam, a conservationist in the Seychelles, a fisherwoman in Madagascar, a restauranteur in Curaçao, her own bohemian cousin in Puerto Rico. Reading about these women was as good as the recipes — and that’s high praise, indeed. (There’s a male Haitian environmentalist, as well.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this cookbook from NetGalley and Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review.

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As soon as I saw this book I was excited to have the opportunity to take a peek inside of it. Tropical cooking, yet providing more than just Latin flavor? Yes, please! The book has beautiful pictures and a history of the techniques used on the islands for cooking. I was so excited to see so much Puerto Rican food (even ones that I hadn't seen before!), yet I could also see recipes from the Philippines and St. Lucia, among other islands. The book was informative and beautiful, and I can't wait to do some of its recipes.

Thank you, NetGalley, Von Diaz, and Chronicle Books for providing me with this eARC.

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This is a fantastic cookbook! I was expecting something that was focused on the Spanish speaking Caribbean islands since the book is titled Islas, but instead the book offers a much wider focus. I love that it includes recipes from all of the different island regions of the world. The photography was gorgeous and all of the recipes were easy to understand and follow. As a professional chef, I rarely consider actually buying cookbooks, but this is one that I'd love to add to my collection.

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Wow this is a very interesting collection of detailed recipes that includes comprehensive instructions on how to make authentic island cuisine. There is plenty of detail regarding what equipment to use, and how to do certain cooking techniques like cooking in the ground. Very useful for real-world situations and understanding the different ways that ingredients can be utilized.

I also appreciated the fact that the author highlights members of island communities who make a difference by providing support through various channels, be it to support women and girls exposed to dangerous conditions or to highlight efforts to maintain the biodiversity of an area. As a studying scientist, I appreciated this context very much.

The sections included are:

Marinating (Guam)
Pickling + Fermentation (Seychelles)
Braising + Stewing (Madagascar)
Frying (Curacao)
Grilling, Roasting + Smoking (Puerto Rico)
Steaming + In-Ground Cooking (Vanuatu)

This cookbook is very well put together with plenty of reference pictures and additional pictures to enjoy throughout. I definitely recommend this for seasoned chefs and those interested in expanding their knowledge of island cuisine.

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I was not expecting how gorgeous this book was going to be! The vibrant cover caught my eye, but wow! The photos in the book are awesome! So colorful and pretty. I really like how the recipes are organized. The author provides so much information on various tropical islands, incorporating their culture, history, and cuisine. Truly a beautiful cookbook chock full of culture, recipes, and striking photography.

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I come from a Caribbean household so a lot of this food is nostalgic to me. A lot of old favorites. Beautiful book! Loved how they labeled the country the recipe comes from. Wish there were more pictures for the recipes. I like to know and see what I’m cooking.

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Isla is full of delicious sounding recipes and photos that made my mouth water. Easy recipe is described briefly and identifies the island on which it originated. Throughout the book are photos and stories of the contributors. I felt like there were a lot of meatless recipes which i appreciate and will make.

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