If you would like to put your cooking skills to the test and prepare simple dishes that serve as everyday meals, then the most recent hardcover book by María Villegas is a reliable place to start. With the title, Día a Día (Day to Day), Villegas’ comprehensive collection of 128 recipes covers 249 pages and includes high-quality images by food photographer Andrés López.
As the director of a book that encourages readers to ‘Relax and eat deliciously!’, Villegas’ recipes are divided into thematic chapters, and eight different options to be enjoyed each week. “I felt the necessity to do this book from the same desperation many feel when it comes to having to think “what to eat?” after a long day at work,” she explained.
“Even though a week has seven days, I decided to make it eight. The four-week month in this book has five. It’s my way of being generous with my reader,” says Villegas. “I wanted a book that resolves dilemmas.” Many of the recipes are part of the author’s culinary heirloom, handed down from her grandmother, others given to the author by friends and relatives, and many others a result of her culinary vision.
At a first glance, the book seems overly simplified, offering classics such as hamburgers, ossobuco, or slaw, but don’t be fooled. Each recipe has its twist and thought-out contribution. For instance, the burger becomes enticing with a shot of port, as much as the slaw made with yacon instead of cabbage, or the Ossobuco served as a sauce for pasta and not as a main dish with rice -the Milanese way, or with pasta, the Colombian way. The simple guidelines of the book make it possible to hand it over to the house help or to share in the cooking with family and friends.
Throughout her career as a chef, María Villegas has authored 12 cookbooks, with Día and Día bringing together some of the most familiar and emblematic of the Colombian kitchen. From how to make a six-portion Ajiaco, Calentado, or Sobrebarriga, Día a Día is not bound to a specific territory as many international dishes have become assimilated in Colombian homes, including Lebanese lentils, bowls, curries, and pasta. The book includes recipes for children, easy-to-prepare salads, soups, and snacks.
“I like to preserve my energy, and having to think about what to eat every day can be draining on one’s energy,” highlights Villegas.
Having started her cooking career studying haute cuisine and pastry at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, María Villegas started visiting kitchens around the world and interviewing award-winning chefs. Each cookbook that she released, including Dulce Tentación, A la Carte, Sabor + Color, The Food of France, The Food of Italy, The Food of Spain and a cooking collection for children entitled Cooking Fairy Tales carries her distinctive editorial vision. “I like to combine techniques, but add a personal touch to cooking,” she says. “The kitchen for me is a space for meditation, introspection and learning about life through the language of food.”
There is one unique ingredient that goes into every recipe in Día a Día: her holistic approach to food, and belief that a balanced diet improves personal performance objectives – at home and work. Villegas is also recognized as a clinical hypnotherapist and Health and Life Coach, accredited by the International Association of Counselors and Therapists, American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and National Guild of Hypnotists.
“A French souffle is one of those dishes that teaches one to “let go,” that one cannot control every aspect of a cooking process – or what happens in life. No matter if all the ingredients are right, you need to let the oven work its magic,” she explained.
Over the past 15 years, while dividing her time between writing, editing, and testing recipes, Villegas has helped her patients achieve better health, as well as overcome traumas and fears. Her therapy sessions and workshops are based on cognitive behavior, psychotherapy, emotional release techniques, and therapeutic methodologies.
Another important element in this book is that all recipes were tested more than 10 times before going to press. A respected author with more than one million copies sold of her more than 40 publishing ventures – as well as food expert who has had her books adapted for television – Día a Día comes at a time in which the pandemic drove many to embark on personal transformations, starting with how to eat and exercise to making those profound career and lifestyle choices.
“Cooking connects all the senses and in many ways is a metaphor for life. Every recipe is important to me, starting with my childhood memories to travels and my family life,” states Villegas, and message that infuses Día a Día with the seal of an autobiography.
Día a Día is available at Villegas Editores and leading bookstores.
Retail price: COP$168.00