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Born in northern Argentina, Juana Manuela Gorriti (1818–92) accompanied her family into political exile in Bolivia, where at age fifteen she married Manuel Isidoro Belzu, then an army captain, with whom she went on to bear three children. Belzu left her nine years later, amid mutual accusations of infidelity. He became Bolivia’s head of state in 1848. Gorriti took their children to Lima, where she embarked on her journalistic and literary career and became the hostess of a prominent intellectual salon and an advocate for the progress of women. Toward the end of her life, she resettled in Argentina, where she continued to pursue her public activities to considerable acclaim.

Her literary cookbook, Cocina ecléctica (Eclectic Cookery, 1877), featured contributors from around Latin America and a few from Europe, a continent- and ocean-spanning constellation of women who read, reflected, wrote, cooked, and corresponded with one another. Among them was the remarkable Clorinda Matto de Turner, Peruvian writer and social reformer, who knew Gorriti from her time in Lima. Matto de Turner’s “Theological Soup,” the first recipe in the volume, is dedicated to Gorriti with warm nostalgia: “Meanwhile, I beg you to make use, you yourself, of this powerful agent of life, so that you can, with me, return to be seen by this Lima which loves you and misses you.” Excerpted here are Gorriti’s prologue and her daughter’s recipe for humintas (steamed corn cakes) from La Paz.

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