Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way By Francis Mallmann, Artisan, 2009. Hardcover. $35; 278 pagesMallmann, who trained in France, is one of Argentina's most celebrated chefs, and he is simply mad for various forms of traditional Argentinian fire cookery: massive logs, heaps of embers, cast-iron oven-grills, open pits, enormous cauldrons, and various contraptions for his open-field conflagrations and "little hells." His Sunday asado—a big family outdoor picnic—involves a grill the size of a California Queen--sized bed. The photos, not only of the food but of fires and the beautiful Argentine country, make you want to hop the next flight south to partake of this vigorous life. A truly inspiring book, however modest your own grill.
There's plenty of meat, of course: skewered, salt-crusted, roasted whole—simple, bold, and often intriguingly named (Flipped-and-Flapped Lamb with Mustard, Oregano, and Lemon Confit). But it's not all meat. "Charring or even burning adds an extra dimension to breads, vegetables, and fruit," says Mallmann, evidenced by dishes like caramelized endives, burnt tomato halves, and griddled asparagus. There are plenty of salads. Seafood includes Cast-Iron-Seared Octopus with Murcia Pimentón. For dessert, oranges are burnt, with rosemary. Big, bold flavors under a big, bold sky—6,000 miles south of Colorado.
GIVE THIS TO: Grillers and travelers; pyrotechnically inclined cooks ready to move beyond basic briquettes. —Robin Bashinsky