Something smells good at N. 10, Garden Street. Delicious, actually!
Oh yes! Those savory aromas wafting from the windows of that charming apartment building are making my mouth water. Who lives there? What are they cooking? Better still, may we have some? :)
In her new picture book-cookbook, Whats Cooking at 10 Garden Street? (Prestel Publishing, 2019), award-winning author/illustrator Felicita Sala invites us into the kitchens of some of the Garden Street residents so we can see for ourselves just what theyre up to.
We first meet Pilar, whos preparing a batch of Salmorejo, a pure consisting of tomatoes mixed with stale bread, garlic, olive oil, and salt that originated in southern Spain. Smiling to herself, she seems quite content wielding her immersion blender, confident that the finished dish will be delicious.
Next door, Mr. Ping stir fries broccoli while his nephew Benjamin looks on. Benjamin calls broccoli little trees. Across the hall, Maria is mashing avocados for Guacamole, while upstairs, Seora Flores squeezes lime juice into her pot of Black Bean Soup.
As we turn the pages, we meet more neighbors, all busy slicing, stirring, chopping, and combining ingredients. Some of these home cooks appear pensive and contemplative, while others are blissful or playful, but all are enjoying themselves, whether theyre working alone or with helpers. Perhaps young Josef and Rafik, who are rolling Meatballs, are having too much fun (Josef is spooning something onto Rafiks head). Or what about impish, red-headed twins Jemima and Rosie arguing over who took the last banana? Their freckly-faced smiles promise all will be forgiven once their Banana and Blueberry Bread comes out of the oven.
When all the cookings done, everyone takes their dishes downstairs for a big pot luck feast in the back garden. What a large, glorious table, set with homemade specialties from around the world! Rest assured, all these lovingly prepared foods taste even better because theyre being shared in the happy spirit of fellowship and community.
Sala has certainly cooked up a scrumptious feast for the eyes with this, her first picture book as both author and illustrator. She claims she isnt an exceptional cook, but simply decided to feature classic recipes she enjoys with her family.
There are 15 recipes in all, presented opposite full page spreads of the cooks in their kitchens. Love the hand-lettered text throughout, and how shes drawn each of the recipe ingredients, honoring their significance in the final outcome, whether a simple clove of garlic or a pucker-inducing jar of Kalamata olives. Here is the opportunity to appreciate the globular beauty of purple eggplants, the cheery redness of ripe strawberries, and the leafy coolness of fresh basil and parsley.
Young readers will enjoy learning about dishes from other cultures, pointing to ingredients they might not see in their own cupboards and refrigerators (mirin, red split lentils, tahini, Serrano ham). These are definitely not kiddie recipes, but rather family recipes that adults and children can make and eat together.
Equally fun is studying all the different kitchens and imagining backstories for the people in them. Pilar must be an art lover with Picassos The Old Guitarist on the wall (and I love her polka dot blouse!). While mashing her avocados, young animal loving Maria decides to slip her pet toucan a piece of tomato, and I wonder if Mister Melville (whos puffing away on a pipe in his nautical-themed kitchen) had his own whale-ish adventures on the high seas. I would like to visit Mr. Singh to ask about his Indian artifacts, or drop by Mrs. Greenpeas place for a nice cuppa while I say hello to her goldfish. Wouldnt mind stealing one of Jeremiahs Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies while listening to a Tom Waits tune with him.
Must say I was pleasantly surprised to find a recipe for Oyako Don, a favorite in our house. Usually sushi or ramen are the calling cards for Japanese cuisine, so it was nice that kids are being introduced to this chicken and egg rice comfort food. Im wondering about Miss Ishida, whos pictured reaching for a bottle of mirin while carrying a baby on her back. A little girl is pictured coloring nearby, so perhaps Miss Ishida is their nanny?
As much a storybook as a cookbook, Whats Cooking at 10 Garden Street? is ultimately a heartwarming global celebration of good food, family, friends, and cultural heritage, reminding us that cooking for others is a special kind of gift. We see how each of the cooks prepared their dishes with love, generosity, joy, and the anticipation that others will soon enjoy a favorite food that is distinctly theirs. Salas warm and welcoming pencil and watercolor illustrations will whet the appetite and engage budding chefs of all ages.
I first became a Felicita Sala fan when I reviewed Mr. Crums Potato Predicament; then, before I could lick the salt off my fingers, swooned all over again when I saw her Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse. I became ecstatic upon hearing that she was doing a book of illustrated recipes, and for months, eagerly awaited the release of Whats Cooking at 10 Garden Street?, the U.S. edition of Au 10, Rue des Jardins: Recettes du monde partager, which was published last year (in the UK, this delightful book is titled, Lunch at 10 Pomegranate Street). Now there are editions in Spanish, Italian and German too so indeed the irresistible aromas from this apartment building are wafting all over the world. :)
Only one thing left to do. Score a copy of this book and start cooking! Bon Apptit!
WHATS COOKING AT 10 GARDEN STREET?
written and illustrated by Felicita Sala
published by Prestel Publishing, September 2019
Picture Book/Cookbook for ages 6-9, 48 pp.
SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY
The publisher is generously offering a copy of Whats Cooking at 10 Garden Street? for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post telling us what dish you like to bring to pot luck gatherings no later than midnight (EST) November 19, 2019. You may also enter by sending an email with GARDEN STREET in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, please. Good Luck!
* Interior spreads text and illustrations copyright 2019 Felicita Sala, published by Prestel Junior. All rights reserved.
** Copyright 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jamas Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.