Brazil is better known for its beaches, festivals and rain forests than for its food. Moreover, claims food and travel writer Harris ( Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons ), the nation's ``supercosmopolitan cities, Rio and Sao Paulo . . . have been so influenced by tourism and by the tastes of the rich that it is only by staying a while and scratching the surface that the visitor can see what the food is really like.'' Unearthing the best from what she calls ``the land of meat and potatoes'' here brings rewards: such characteristically Brazilian specialties as a chili and lime sauce, and several versions of malagueta pepper sauce, serve as the complements to the grilled meats and fish that form the basis of Brazilian cooking. A selection of fancifully named, luscious sweets include avocado ice cream (in Brazil, the avocado most frequently appears as a dessert) and a confection known as ``maiden's drool'' because, according to the author, the dessert so tempts young girls that they ``drool with delight.'' Fruity cocktails appear as well. Harris reflects her knowledge of both Brazilian and American markets with a lengthy list of unusual ingredients, and provides substitutions for supersaturated but taste-laden palm oil, as familiar to Brazilian cooking as the ubiquitous malagueta pepper, but repellent to health-conscious Americans. (Aug.)
Felipe Rojas-Lombardi's landmark Art of South American Cooking ( LJ 10/15/91) is, regrettably, one of the few recent books on the cuisines of that continent, making this engaging new volume particularly welcome. As the author of Sky Juice and Flying Fish ( LJ 12/90), which was about Caribbean cooking, and Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons ( LJ 5/15/89), which focused on Africa's influence on New World cuisine, Harris is well suited to her subject. Including dozens of appetizing recipes, she writes enthusiastically about Brazil's diverse regional cuisine, exploring the culinary background and contributions of each ethnic group, from the Indians to the most recent immigrants. Highly recommended.