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A Taste of Paradise

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About the author:
Susana grew up in a small town in the Dominican Republic in a home without electricity. She learned to cook helping her aunts and grandmother prepare meals outside under a palm thatched cooking shelter with the flavors of slow cooking over an open fire; where coconut cream was made daily; grating the copra, and squeezing it by hand, and where meat was either butchered the same morning in the market, or dried in the sun. Without refrigeration fish was limited to salted cod, dried herring or dried tilapia. Tilapia can still be seen hanging to dry on lines in many villages near where she was raised.

Like many people in town, her family raised goats and a "canuco"; a plot of land near town where they cultivated vegetables, plantains avocados, mangoes, coconuts and other fruits. Planting and harvesting was a community event with "plenas" sung as neighbors helped each other with planting and bringing in the crop.

In the days of her youth it was not unusual to pass the evening with friends and family members, shelling pigeon peas, exchanging local gossip and telling cautionary tales to the young. Other than some music on the radio there was little electronic interference to boisterous conversation and play with friends and extended family. Clothes were washed by hand, often on the river bank. Every one had chores, but there was also opportunity to sneak off and play to climb trees and to swim in nearby streams.

Susana moved to a provincial capital on the coast to attend college, and here she expanded her culinary experience to a wider variety of foods, including fresh seafood. Soon after coming to the United States Susana was selected to be part of the Betty Crocker composite portrait. She has worked as a business manager and has taught elementary and high school.

Dr. Charles Lewis, MD, MPH, served as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in a isolated mountain village in the Dominican Republic and lived in that country for several years. He returned to the Dominican Republic after residency training and helped to organize public health efforts to improve children's health and survival, and worked at the regional hospital. He and Susana met at this time, when she was nearing completion of her college degree.

Dr. Lewis is board certified in Public Health and Preventive Medicine and has practiced medicine in Florida for over 20 years. He is also the author of a textbook on enteroimmunology, an emerging field of medicine, and is an expert on food-related diseases

A Taste of Paradise

A Feast of Authentic Caribbean Cuisine and Refreshing Tropical Beverages for Health and Vitality

Authored by Susana J Lewis, Dr. Charles A. Lewis MD

A Taste of Paradise is a guide to the preparation of delicious, easy to prepare foods with rich and authentic Caribbean flavors. These traditional foods form a natural, healthful diet with meals that are highly flavored and satisfying, and served with fresh cut fruit. The book provides well over 200 traditional recipes for great tasting foods, many prepared with coconut cream.

This book is more than a collection of traditional Caribbean dishes. Not only does it explain how to prepare dishes, it teaches the selection and storage of tropical fruit, how to prepare plantains and cassava for cooking and how to obtain the most health benefit from foods. For example, it gives secrets on how to cook beans that are smooth and creamy and which avoid the formation of excess intestinal gas.

This book was co-authored by a medical doctor board certified in preventive medicine. A section is dedicated to healthy weight loss (never calorie counting) while enjoying food. Along with the recipes are notes explaining why mangoes can cause allergic reactions in individuals susceptible to poison oak and how to avoid the reaction while enjoying the fruit, why some smoothies get bitter and how to prevent it, which tropical foods are likely to trigger migraines, which foods can be toxic if not correctly prepared. It provides instructions for safe preparation of ceviche, meats and seafoods. The section on meats explains how to prepare juicy, tender meat and how avoid creation of carcinogens during cooking. In the section on vegetables, it shows how to prepare vegetables to maximize anti-carcinogenic compounds.

Most of the recipes are gluten free, and to extend this benefit, instructions are given for preparation of gluten free pastas. Many recipes use coconut rather than milk, and thus are lactose free; there are milk free recipes for flan, cake and smoothies made using coconut cream. There is even a traditional a recipe for molasses "brownies" made without milk, eggs or chocolate.

The Spanish speaking Caribbean islands (Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico) share, climate, language, geography, and not surprisingly many elements of traditional cuisine. Many traditional dishes from the islands originated with the native residents, the Taíno people, these include corn breads, roasted turkey and root beer. Other recipes are traced back to Moorish casserole, fufu and elephant ear soup from Africa, bread and war paint used by the Arawak Indians, and spicy hot coco drink from the Aztecs. Early in their history, these islands were the crossroads for the development of the Americas, and this is reflected in the diversity of their tropical cuisine.

This book gives traditional recipes, including holiday fare and provides shortcuts and modern adaptations so that the authentic flavors can be enjoyed using ingredients found in most American and Canadian cities. The authors also include recipes for the "fast foods" sold by street vendors on the islands. The book is nicely illustrated.

Publication Date:
1938318005 / 9781938318009
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5" x 11"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Cooking / Health & Healing / General

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