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First Look: Mallmann on Fire by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky

The Argentine chef returns with a book on live fire cooking around the world.

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Here's Mallmann on Fire, by Argentine chef Francis Mallmann and writer Peter Kaminsky. In this book, Mallmann looks within Argentina and beyond for cooking inspiration, concocting all manner of live fire cooking from "Patagonia to Paris, from Buenos Aires to Brooklyn, from Brazil to Berkeley." It is the sequel to 2009's wonderful (and Beard Award-winning) Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, and if you are unfamiliar with that book, stop reading this right now and get on it. (And may I recommend its Malbec-braised leg of lamb?)

Mallmann on Fire is an opportunity for you to become all zen about cooking with fire. "Fire loves mushrooms," intones Mallmann, "and mushrooms love fire." He takes his beloved grill, which was "baptized in Patagonian fire," everywhere with him. There are photos of Mallmann in every picturesque outdoor cooking situation you can fathom: slicing blood oranges in an orchard, grilling fish on a Patagonian cliff overlooking the sea, drinking wine on an abandoned railroad trestle in front of a blazing fire in Uruguay, pushing his rig past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. (Yes, really.) Do not misunderstand: I am not making fun of Mallmann on Fire. To the contrary, I am totally on board with this vision of the good life.

Much like Seven Fires, the food is a lovely blend of bright, light vegetables and earthy, charred meats; fat and acid; herbs and wine and cheese and ham. There are recipes like shaved grilled artichokes with Comte, tortillas full of vegetables and shrimp, ribeyes with herby bread salads, grilled eggplant with anchovies, and much more. In fact, it reminds me of a Latin-flavored version of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbooks: those who loved the well-balanced approach of Plenty and Jerusalem will find a similar appeal here.

The book is not perfect: there are a few oddly blurry photos included for reasons I can't fathom, and maybe not everyone will be as enamored of Mallmann's posturing as I am. Still, if you love cooking outdoors, or if you loved Seven Fires, this book will give you new directions to explore. Mallmann on Fire is out now from Artisan (order on Amazon).

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