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Pickle Me This

February 20, 2012

Guacamole by Jorge Argueta and Margarita Sada

A couple of years ago, I was totally obsessed with literary avocados, so it was no surprise really that I’d find Guacamole: A Cooking Poem appealing. The kids on the cover live in a hollowed-out avocado, for crying out loud, with a purple bird on the window sill. And the illustrations really are what’s immediately appealing about this book, the sheer delight of the children in the story as they make literal the story’s metaphors about pits so slick you can slide down them, or a spoon you drive like a tractor.

The poem is Spanish poem is translated into English, and both texts appear here. The poem emphasizes feeling and sensuousness, and portrays cooking as a profoundly emotional experience. And experience itself is profoundly about imagination, the text here doing what the illustrations do with metaphors: with your apron on, you feel like a great chef, salt falls like rain, lime juice is a river, and a lime’s seeds are “Little pearls that look like eyes…”

The very best part of the book is that it’s as much recipe book as picture book, and the results are delicious. Our pages are already splattered with food in the very best way. The poem’s recipe is simple enough that Harriet and I could make the guacamole together with neither of us losing patience, and she particularly enjoyed stirring with her tractor spoon. We also took care to involve singing and dancing in the process as instructed (with is always important when you’re working in the kitchen), and I love the way this book shows cooking as something we can do with our family, and also something we can do for our family, and regardless, is connected to togetherness.

Guacamole is part of a series of cooking poems by Argueta which also includes Bean Soup and Rice Pudding. I look forward to trying the others.

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