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Key Lime Pie. Citrus pie with meringue. top view. Photo by: Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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Get the Story Behind South Florida’s Food History and Restaurant Scene With These Books

From how to recreate Miami’s best mojito to where to find the best Floribbean cuisine

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Set on picking up new culinary skills and doing more home-entertaining while giving prior knowledge of Miami’s dining landscape a refresh? There’s no shortage of good, old-fashioned books to crack open and learn valuable information on the Magic City’s most essential food-related history, topics, and recipes.

Running the gamut from tales about beloved local cocktails to beautiful step by step photos for making incredible sweet desserts, the list below names some of the best titles worth keeping on the shelf.

Mango and Peppercorns, A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream

by Katherine Manning, Lyn Nguyen, and Tung Nguyen

Fans of the now shuttered famed Vietnamese restaurant Hy Vong can bring back to life the umami that defined it through some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes like beef noodle soup and spicy ribs. But Mango and Peppercorns, A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream is more than just a cookbook — written by the team behind the Calle Ocho restaurant Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, Lyn Nguyen, with Elisa Ung — it interweaves the women’s alternating perspectives on their experiences as they raise Tung’s daughter, Lyn, and their decades-long partnership. Authenticity was key to making Hy Vong a lauded culinary destination and so is their story: pregnant Nguyen fled her native Saigon and Midwestern-born graduate student and waitress Manning took her into her home along with other displaced Vietnamese refugees. Their improbable, heart-warming friendship was brought about by food and its power to bring cultures together.

Miami Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes by the Magic City

by Gabriel Urrutia

Throwing a party? Need a tropical concoction for a warm night? Learn how to shake, stir, and imbibe some of the best Magic City libations like a local with Gabriel Urrutia, an award-winning veteran of the spirits industry who takes enthusiasts on a journey through the best Miami bars and the bartenders that make them part of one of the country’s most dynamic cocktail scenes. Read all about the Miami twists on classics, where to find year-round local produce, and put together a proper Miami home bar, before diving into the more than 100 recipes complete with glassware and garnish tips.

Miami Cooks: Recipes from the City’s Favorite Restaurants

by Sara Liss

Chef Kal Abadala from A Fish Called Avalon makes one of the best paellas in town and food lovers now can do the same with this book by Miami food writer Sara Liss. Beautifully photographed with food recipes and background on some of the most celebrated local chefs, Miami Cooks: Recipes from the City’s Favorite Restaurants navigates through the city’s vibrant culinary fusion of Latin, Caribbean, and Mediterranean cuisines offering 70 dishes for home cooks of all levels.

Miami Spice: The New Florida Cuisine

by Steven Raichlen

Always wanted to learn how to mix a South Beach sangria or pick the right plantains to whip up a perfect Cuban mariquita (plantain chips)? Award-winning writer Seven Raichlen is the guide for this tour of Floridians’ backyards including local fruits like mango and tamarind and native seafood and ingredients like stone crabs and sazon. The recipes derive from the crossroads of Latin American and Caribbean cuisines like Cuban Thanksgiving turkey, Haitian slaw, and guava cheesecake. Raichlen’s narrative shines as it explores how Miami is the birth town of inventive, vibrant Nuevo Latino cuisine, and how the city’s fine dining restaurants are redefining the American notion of Latin cooking.

Taste of Miami: A COVID-19 Relief Effort for the Restaurants We Love

by Neuelane

A coffee book table book as well as a master class in Miami’s favorite dishes, this community-driven title was released by local advertising agency Neuelane 2020 as restaurants were struggling to stay afloat during the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. With 50 local recipes from some of the most lauded restaurants, chefs, and tastemakers ranging from creative small bites, entrees, “literally sweet” desserts, and exotic cocktails. Learn the secrets of what makes the “Beast loaf” from Beast Burger or the popular Eating House Cap’n Crunch pancakes from scratch. One hundred percent of the book’s proceeds are directed to the restaurants featured.

Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban: 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining

by Glenn M. Lindgren, Jorge Castillo and Raul Musibay

For Cubans getting together with family around food is a tradition. Combine that with friends, music, tropical cocktails, and sweet desserts and a celebration is in place. The three authors, founders of the popular website, are all about spotlighting Cuban cuisine and its melange of soul-satisfying Spanish, New World, and Caribbean flavors. Their best piece of advice? Party tonight, diet tomorrow.

Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen

by Norman Van Aken

Van Aken’s take on Florida’s cuisine reads like a dear friend teaching how to make comfort food. Through the book the acclaimed chef showcases the Sunshine State versatility in every category from classic white soup to fusion-style dishes like lamb vindaloo. Step-by-step recipes are made even more informative with heartfelt advice and stories straight from his kitchen.

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