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The Best Latin Cookbooks of 2012

This was a banner year for Latino chefs, but not just in the kitchen. Latin chefs hit the publishing industry, releasing an unprecedented number of cookbooks. From their titles (in English and Spanish), to their scope (from street food to molecular-influenced cuisine), to their sheer size (some over 900 pages) -- as well as their brisk sale -- they've affirmed that a gnawing hunger for more nuanced volumes about Latino food exists. Here's a round up of just a few of our favorites.

Whether you're giving or getting, these cookbooks won't just lead to delicious meals. One of the distinguishing characteristics shared by all of our favorite Latino cookbooks from 2012 is their emphasis on culture, memory, people, and place. “When it comes to cookbooks, just recipes aren't enough anymore,” says Nora de Hoyos Comstock, the founder of Las Comadres, a community building group that organizes an annual conference for Latino writers. “The memoir element is often more important than the recipes.”

Comstock, who doesn't cook, isn't alone in buying cookbooks “just” for their stories. Aurora Anaya-Cerda, owner of the Manhattan-based La Casa Azul Bookstore, says that sales of Latino cookbooks are up, and her customers seem especially interested in cookbooks that incorporate family stories alongside meal prep instructions.

In our 2012 picks, you'll find cookbooks where stories and photos share space with recipes rooted in specific places. Each brings the past and present together in a way that will likely stir up your own memories and inspire you to make new ones, in the market, in the kitchen, and at the table.

Next, the top cookbooks of the year.

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