cookbook club: king Solomon’s table

Welcome to the first cookbook of Spring 2022. This season’s theme is Legendary Women Cookbook Authors. Before we dig into our first book, I think we need to address an important question… 

what makes a legend? 

I believe it’s something beyond fame. You don’t become legendary just from being famous. One must DO something to deserve that accolade. And, yes, it must be deserved. A legend is one who leaves an indelible impression on the lives they touch – an impression that leaves others better off and even wiser than they were before. A legend lives in accordance with their deepest beliefs, and they share those beliefs openly with others. 

You’ll find legends working where their passions, talent, and values intersect.  

And that is exactly where our first legendary woman cookbook author has thrived for decades!

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going to Peru, part 1

let the culinary adventures begin!

Wander. Eat. Drink. Learn. Share. Enjoy. This isn’t just the tagline for this website, it’s the mantra for how I choose to live my life. It’s about learning the foodways of other cultures firsthand through local markets, street foods, and restaurants; through wandering on and off the beaten path; through conversations, art, music, dance…learning what people really hold dear and celebrating it.

In the past I’ve made these journeys alone. But the best part of any good adventure is sharing it with others. The wonder, the excitement, the new smells and flavors, and the familiar ones too! The conversations, the opportunities to open hearts and minds… that’s what this is all about.

I’m as happy to wander ten miles of home as ten thousand. So, in the coming months I’ll share some great local adventures, including some in person opportunities for those of you in the tri-state area. But right now, my mind is on far away places. 

I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before. I want to experience an ancient culture, distinctive art and music, deeply rooted regional cuisine – all the things that help create magical adventures. I want to cultivate my vital sense of wonder!

what about Peru?

Have you been to Peru? I’ve never been to Peru. Not even South America. I plan to change that. This year. Want to join me?

To prepare for the journey, I’m doing a lot of research. As I do, I’ll share it here with you. This is the first of a four-part series about preparing for my Peruvian Culinary Journey with my friends at Ponte Travels. Hopefully, along the way, you’ll decide you want to come along for that great adventure.

photo of machu picchu
Photo by Chelsea Cook on Pexels.com

why Peru?

My first thought is to answer, “why not?” But I think you deserve a more thoughtful response. So, in all honesty, it started with all the books and Netflix that filled my free time during the pandemic while alone in a strange city. I’ll list them in my “to read and watch” list at the end of this post. 

3 reasons, in no particular order

As I mentioned, this is the first in a series of four posts. The next three will dig deeper into these topics. Here’s a taste:

1. Great chefs. 

Specifically, chefs Gastón Acurio, Virgilio Martinez, and Pía León. 

Peru has been awarded the distinction of “Best Culinary Destination in Latin America” for multiple years in a row. This is, at least in part, thanks to the work of these chefs, all of whom have restaurants that have been recognized in the 50 Best in the World. In fact, Martinez’s restaurant Central was recently awarded “Restaurant of the Decade in Latin America.” At the helm there you’ll find Chef Pía León, the World’s Best Female Chef of 2021.  And you’ll find me there in November at a cooking class and private lunch!

Virgilio Martinez is the author of several cookbooks. One of them, The Latin American Kitchen, was an alternate choice for a recent season of the cookbook club. But it was so inspiring that we chose to dedicate a full season to exploring Latin American cuisine (coming in Fall 2022). The season will culminate in this trip to Peru!

2. Peruvian potatoes. And pisco. 

I like alliteration. All the “p” words. And I love potatoes. And pisco. But that’s just the start. Peru is known for its biodiversity, especially when it comes to food. In addition to the famous potatoes, there are types of corn available nowhere else, quinoa, and more. 

Peru is where potatoes come from (here and Bolivia). Potatoes have been found in this part of the Andes since at least 8000 BCE. The Inca cultivated potatoes in Peru throughout their short but significant reign before the Spaniards brought them to Europe in the 16th century. 

There are over 3800 types of potatoes growing in Peru today, most of which only grow here. On one of the farm tours we have scheduled, we’ll meet an agronomist in the Sacred Valley who’ll teach us about 370 of those native varieties.

And let’s not forget the pisco! Pisco is a type of unaged brandy from South America – mostly Peru and Chile. In fact, it’s the Peruvian national spirit. It’s distilled from grape juice using a process introduced by the Spaniards in the 17th century. It’s truly unique and has herbal, earthy flavors. Great in Pisco Punch! More on that soon…

3. Living ancient culture.

Peru’s ancient culture is still alive today. In language, dress, lifestyle, food, art, and music. I could go on. And I will in another post. In the meantime, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that a visit to Machu Pichu is on the absolute top of my list. Those Incan ruins are one of the top tourist attractions in the world. So, here are a few other cultural treasures…

Art. Specifically, the textiles. Ancient Andean textile arts are also world-renowned. Because of the climate in the mountains, there are dyed textiles that have been preserved for over 6000 years. Today you’ll still find Quechua women weaving by hand from intensely colored wool made from cotton, llama, and alpaca. Wood, gold, and silver arts are also prevalent.

Andean music. Panpipes, flutes, drums, and stringed instruments introduced by the Spaniards like the charango (similar to a lute).

Quechua culture. The native Peruvians, collectively referred to as the Quechua (the name of the language), now only make up less than 26% of the population. Their culture pre-dates the Incan Empire by thousands of years. These people are historically semi-nomadic from the Andean highlands. Today, they are most noted for their textile arts and traditional dress that includes woolen coats, ponchos, flowing skirts, and unique hats. Interesting fact: the women’s hats may actually signify their relationship status.

join me in Peru this fall!


reading and watching list

Watch: 

Chef’s Table, Netflix 2017 season, Episode 4 (read about it on Eater HERE)

Peru, Hidden Treasure, also on Netflix

Touching the Void, a survival docudrama based on a book by Joe Simpson

Read: 

Turn Right at Machu Pichu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams

The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie

Eight Feet in the Andes by Dervla Murphy

The Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming


Have you been to Peru? Share your experiences in the comments!

spring 2022 cookbook club: legendary women cookbook authors, part 1

It just happened to be International Women’s Day when the request came for the next seasonal theme for our cookbook group. It also happened that I was pondering how to incorporate the most requested cookbook of them all, simply referred to as “Julia“.

That’s a big, giant, elephant of a book to bring into a line up. That book is legendary. And the woman who wrote it, even more so. Only other legends could hold their own with her. Now there’s a theme… Legends. And women.

This season of  92nd Street Y and Kitchen Arts & Letters cookbook club begins on May 10, 2022 (click that link above for more information). As of the day I’m posting, there’s still time to register and receive your books so you can get cooking! I’ll personally get you caught up on the upcoming assignments and early discussion.

I’d love to have you join us live on Zoom if you’re able. But if not, I’ll be posting about each book as we go, so you can follow along here on Wander Eat and Tell too.

Let’s start with more about our theme, and of course, what books we’ll be cooking from…

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cookbook club: japanese farm food

(and announcing the next season!)

I’m a bit late posting this one – apologies to those who’ve been waiting to find out where our journey Cooking Off the Beaten Path has taken us! For me, part of that journey was a cross-country move that, like this season of cookbook club, has come to a delicious close.  

Our previous books, took us on a taste adventure from Portugal to the Baltic, then to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kurdistan in Taste of Persia. It’s been quite a journey! Our final book takes us to a very different world on another continent. 

NOTE: For those of you who are eager to learn more about next season (starting May 10, 2022), you can click through HERE. I’ll share more at the end of this post as well.

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cookbook club: Taste of Persia

The third book of our winter 2022 season of cookbook club is one that’s been around for several years and is a personal favorite of mine. This time our “Cooking Off The Beaten Path” journey takes us to five places that were once part of the first global empire, dating back to the seventh century BC. 

Through the two previous books, we traveled from Portugal to the Baltic. We are now arcing south through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kurdistan in Taste of Persia by the inimitable Naomi Duguid. 

Off the Beaten Path is a perfect theme for the inclusion of Naomi Duguid’s work. Her previous solo book, Burma: Rivers of Flavor would also be a great choice (or any of her other 6 books coauthored with Jeffrey Alford). Duguid is a traveler, writer, photographer, cook, and culinary anthropologist. The journey she takes us on is captivating, revelatory, and delicious!

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cookbook club: Amber & Rye

As we continue “Cooking Off The Beaten Path” with our Winter 2022 season of cookbook club, our culinary journey is now taking us from Portugal to the Baltic through the cuisines of three distinct cultures. Visit Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with author Zuza Zak as she takes us on a personal exploration of the markets, pantries, and kitchens of three countries through stories and recipes. 

And you can do it without leaving your own kitchen (except, maybe, a trip to the market!).

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cookbook club: Portuguese Home Cooking

The theme for this season of Cookbook Club is Cooking Off The Beaten Path. Food is culture and I deeply believe in its power to take us on amazing journeys (inner & outer). Over the next couple months, we’ll explore a few cuisines and cultures that may be new to many of us. 

Along the way we’ll try some new ingredients and techniques and learn why they matter. We’ll not only seek to understand differences, we’ll also look for connections. In this season of Cookbook Club, we’re also exploring beyond the kitchen. Our live group discussion also branched out to music, art, and cultural influence. I’ll share a taste of that with you as well!

Our first cookbook of this season is Portuguese Home Cooking by Ana Patuleia Ortins – a book rich with recipes for comfort foods and hearty soups – the perfect kickoff to our winter season! 

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winter 2022 cookbook club: cooking off the beaten path

Food is culture and I deeply believe in its power to take us on amazing journeys, both inner & outer.

This season we’re taking a journey off the beaten path to explore a few cuisines and cultures that may be new to many of us. Along the way we’ll try new ingredients and learn why they matter. We’ll not only seek to understand differences, we’ll also look for connections. 

I could have easily chosen a dozen or more books for this theme. Let’s say we’re off to a good start, and I promise we’ll continue our “off the beaten path” journeys well into the future.

This season of  92nd Street Y and Kitchen Arts & Letters cookbook club begins on February 1, 2022 (click that link above for more information). I’d love to have you join us live on Zoom if you’re able. But if not, I’ll be posting about each book as we go, so you can follow along here on Wander Eat and Tell too.

If you’re just joining us and would like to catch up on previous or cookbooks (including previous seasons), you can catch up from the start HERE.  

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