Music, dancing and food unite in this giddy bilingual whirl.
Ingredients are also elements in Argueta’s “salsa orchestra”: “Cloves of garlic are trumpets, / and the cilantro is the orchestra conductor / with his shaggy, green hair.” Moreover, “For the music to be really spicy, / it’s important to use chilies”—red ones in particular, though hot chilies also come in green (“One bite and we turn into fireflies”), purple, yellow and “even little round chilies like green pearls.” Though the amount of each ingredient is not specified, Tonatiuh’s dancing figures—rendered in his digital collages in ancient Mixtec style with oversized hands and big, swiveling heads—demonstrate each step in stylized but easily followed ways. Components are diced (with adult help required, not suggested), smushed together in a lava molcajete with a thick tejolote, then stirred with a “saxophone spoon” while Mamá warms up the tortillas. “Ummmm, qué rica / esta salsa. / Salsa roja, / sabor de amor.” There is no glossary, but English translations have been placed beneath the Spanish free verse and follow it closely.
Ummm, a delicious companion to Argueta’s Tamalitos (2013, illustrated by Domi), Guacamole (2012, illustrated by Margarita Sada) and his other poemas para cocinar. (Picture book. 5-8)