The latest of Argueta’s free-verse recipes is a savory tribute to corn—as ancient a foodstuff as it is delicious.
Presented in bilingual passages with the Spanish over the English, his directions begin with an invitation to think about “kernels of corn— / white, yellow, blue ones, / purple, red and black ones— / like a rainbow / when it’s drizzling.” Following references to corn’s antiquity, he goes on to describe how to gather the simple ingredients, assemble the tamalitos and cook them, all while dancing “the Maya corn dance / and the Aztec dance / and the powwow dance / and the corn dance / of all the people of corn.” Using a high intensity palette, Domi reflects the author’s infectious energy in watercolor on wet paper, painting scenes of broadly grinning young cooks capering through cornfields and kitchen, demonstrating how to hold and stuff the corn leaves and then, in the end, chowing down: “Ummmm, ¡qué deliciosos tamalitos, / estos tamalitos de maíz hechos con amor!” Rather than list “oil” and “fresh white cheese” as ingredients, the author could have been more specific, but this is a minor quibble. Steps that require adult assistance are signaled throughout the text with asterisks.
Even for novice chefs (and readers) the “Ummmm”s are easily attainable. (Picture book. 4-8)