“Salt & Silver: Travel, Surf, Cook” captures the stories of two German friends who decided to answer the call of the waves and embark on a culinary surf safari across Central and South America.
The book, by the very tattooed pair Johannes Riffelmacher and Thomas Kosikowski, is part travelogue, part cookbook, and part surf guide. Packing up their surf boards, photo equipment, and cooking knives, the pair flew from Frankfurt, Germany, to Havana, Cuba, where they promptly ran out of cash.
The heart of “Salt & Silver,” and where it is most engaging, is the authors’ interaction with the people they meet along the way. Surfing makes for an almost instant community.
In Havana, they ended up meeting with a community of skaters and surfers whose sporting activities put them at risk of constant confrontations with the police. Swimming and surfing are forbidden at the Malecón (boardwalk), though it has the best tubes in all of Cuba (when waves curl up high, they form a tube that you can surf through). Those acts, and skating on the steps of a communist monument, are infractions that can land one in jail.
Riffelmacher and Kosikowski’s adventurous natures led them to ignore some sensible advice—for example, a warning against traveling through the Mexican state of Michoacán, known for drug cartel violence. But of course, had they been more cautious, their book might not have been as interesting.
There are a number of close calls, none of them fatally dangerous in the end: being stopped at gunpoint by the local militia, an encounter with a tarantula, and more.
The authors take readers along for a culinary exploration, not only of classics like tacos and ceviche (and an incredible variety thereof) but also less known dishes, such as “mariscoco,” an emptied out fresh coconut filled with shrimp, coconut meat, and Clamato juice that serves as a hangover remedy; flambéed blood sausage; and Cajita de Cerdo (literally, pork in a box).
For the most part, the ingredients are easy to procure with perhaps the exception, as they’ll admit, of a dish of grilled piranhas in a sour jungle fruit sauce. But when the Amazon hands you piranhas, what else are you supposed to do?
For those at home, “Salt & Silver” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99) makes for some exciting armchair traveling and surfing. And if it makes you feel hungry at all, which it should, then you have the recourse of recreating those flavors in your own kitchen.
See the recipe for Grilled Scallops in a White Wine-Worcestershire Sauce (Conchas a la Parilla)
See the recipe for Spiced Mexican Coffee (Café de Olla)
Andrews McMeel Publishing © 2016. All rights reserved. Images excerpted from “Salt & Silver: Travel, Surf, Cook” by Thomas Kosikowski and Johannes Riffelmacher. Used with permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing