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“Table and friends are thick as thieves”           Greek proverb

To mix seasonings, balance textures, colors, aromas and flavors in one dish, to compose a menu, to succeed in turning the unavoidable act of eating into a celebration of life, of sensitivity and of intelligence itself, is an art perhaps not as legitimized as the visual, musical or performing arts, but no less important. There are two time proven facts. One is that in cooking the ingredients may be the same, but the flavor is always different, success depending on the personal dash, as in art. The other, from Greek times, is that the table is the stage for serious and influential acts of rhetoric, dialectics and its equivalents. Let us mention in passing Plato’s Banquet as one of gastronomy’s many claims to culture.

Literature as well makes ample reference to the bounties of the table. Balthazar’s biblical Feast (where one would have liked a description of the menu), Gargantua’s gigantic appetite and his no less voracious son Pantagruel in Rabelais’ fable. Swift’s insatiable Gulliver starving on the rations given him by the inhabitants of Lilliput. The memories evoked over breakfastin Marcel Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, or Isaak Dienesen’s (the danish writer Karen Blixen) Babette’s Feast which was adapted to a movie. Or, As in Water for Chocolate, where a meal can be an offering, an act of love and praise so great that it can give rise to great passions, among many examples. It makes one wonder how many events of worl-wide importance have been cooked up under the table?

One always associates a good table with human richness, not in the material sense, but asexpressed in the vocation or willingness of the work itself. As I say this, I can’t help but think of my mother and my sister Lia, who also mentions this in her prologue of her book MAM’s Recepies, for busy cou²ples. In it, she points out that our mother wisdom resided in feeding us with the affection inherent to her sea²son²ing. How could we not do likewise when we offer a meal to someone who is the object of our affections?

That is precisely what this book is about: learning the techniques and resources to maintain the ritual without losing its quality; gaining self confidence in our seasoning and becoming maestros in shades and nuances.
Colombians know a good table, not only because of their willingness to serve and flatter, but because they have developed well-combined flavors on stoves designed to merge tradition with innovation.

The reader will find balanced menus organized by sections, each one dedicated to the cuisine of different countries. These are followed by luxurious menus for memorable occasions,grand menus for less formal occasions, for parties and cocktails, for a memorable day-to-day, weddings (is there anything more memorable than a wedding?), for tea-time and much more. The dishes are not difficult. As a matter of fact, the international dishes are probably the most reputed of each country. In this way,  Ana de Vargas, the author, shares her culinary wisdom with the wide public, revealing the secrets of the kitchen in a simple, direct and explicit way. Anita is a genious of creative cuisine.

The book’s design, the work of Lucas Posada G., the author’s son,  deserves special mention. If we have spoken of gastronomy as an art, he has totally integrated the difusion the recepies with the harmony of the menus, in a way that is original, delicate and graceful.

Mother and son have concocted this book, an example of a good piece for four hands, two loves and a flavor that is one and only. Ultimately, that is what counts, and that is what this book invites us to enjoy.




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