Reviewed by Allie Jane Bruce
The first-person narrator (who does the cooking) has a child’s voice, and teaches readers about the history and culture embodied in red salsa.
“[M]olcajetes were / our ancestors’ / blenders”, the narrator tells us, and later references Nahua, Aztec, and Mayan ancestors (who Tonatiuh also includes in the illustrations).
Music lives in the text and illustrations, both in the salsa dancing and in the metaphors to a symphony of flavors (“I am ready with four tomatoes. / They are bongos and kettledrums. / My onion is a maraca. / Cloves of garlic are the trumpets, / and the cilantro is the orchestra conductor / with his shaggy, green hair”). Continue reading.
Salsa by Jorge Argueta
Published by Groundwood Books Ltd on February 22, 2015
Genres: Bilingual, Food, Latinx, OwnVoices
Reading Level: Early Childhood, Grade K
Review Source: Reading While White
Buy at Powell's Books
Also by this author: Somos Como Las Nubes / We Are Like the Clouds, A Movie in My Pillow, Alfredito Flies Home
Publisher's synopsis: In this new cooking poem, Jorge Argueta brings us a fun and easy recipe for a yummy salsa. A young boy and his sister gather the ingredients and grind them up in a molcajete, just like their ancestors used to do, singing and dancing all the while.
The children imagine that their ingredients are different parts of an orchestra — the tomatoes are bongos and kettledrums, the onion, a maraca, the cloves of garlic, trumpets and the cilantro, the conductor. They chop and then grind these ingredients in the molcajete, along with red chili peppers for the “hotness” that is so delicious, finally adding a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt. When they are finished, their mother warms tortillas and their father lays out plates, as the whole family, including the cat and dog, dance salsa in mouth-watering anticipation.
Winner of the International Latino Book Award for Guacamole, Jorge Argueta has once again written a recipe-poem that families will delight in.
Each book in the cooking poem series features a talented illustrator from the Latino world. In Salsa the text is complemented by the rich, earthy illustrations of Duncan Tonatiuh, winner of the Pura Belpré Award. His interest in honoring the art of the past in contemporary contexts is evident in these wonderful illustrations, which evoke the pre-Columbian Mixtec codex.