By Sandra A. Gutierrez (The University of North Carolina Press; $35)
You know how you shouldn't judge a book by its cover? I couldn't help it with this book because on its cover are my beloved Tacos Ticos. Growing up in Queens, New York, as part of a Costa Rican/Cuban family, I was surrounded by ethnic fare from all over the world, including at home, where my dad's specialty was Tacos Ticos, the very same recipe featured on the cover of this book in all its beefy, crispy, crunchy glory. The tacos are served all over Costa Rica at fairs, open air markets, roadside snack stands, and out of carts at the beach, and that's exactly the kind of food featured throughout this colorful (in every way) cookbook. The Tacos Ticos on the cover got me to pick up this book, but its other vibrant recipes-myriad ceviches, pozoles, tamales, and what seems like every empanada known to humandkind-kept me reading. Gutierrez's lively and informative chapter and recipe introductions made me want to travel to all the countries represented. For now, however, I'll just turn up the salsa music and get cooking.