You’ll recognize this book, the style of this book, by its cover. You’ll recognize the author, Southwestern food guru Mark Miller. You are now in a solid position to judge this book and the judgment will surely be positive.

The Great series from Chartwell Books are spiral bound books, tall and thin. One or two recipes on the left page and a most inviting picture or two on the right page.

Pictures of salsa invoke salvia. And sometimes even a hint of sweat, at least for me. I just look at an orange habanero salsa recipe and the heat seems to leap from the page to my forehead. That does not mean I would forgo habanero. It does mean I would check on my stock of Mexican beer.

There are a hundred recipes here, divided into a spectrum of types that is far wider than I imagined existed. Mark Miller is in fine form here, displaying his deep knowledge of all the pathways of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. Here are the chapters and sample recipes:

  • Chile Salsas: Habanero, Roasted Green Chile, and Chipotle Tomatillo
  • Tropical Salsas: Banana Tamarind and Mint, Seared Pineapple, and Brazilian Avocado and Orange
  • Fruit Salsas: Balsamic Berry, Pear and Black Olive, Moroccan Date
  • Corn Salsas: Corn and Squash, Roasted Corn and Wild Mushroom, Corn and Green Chile
  • Bean Salsas: Mediterranean White Bean, Barbados Black Bean, Pinto Three Chile
  • Garden Salsas: Artichoke Apple, Eggplant Chipotle, Carrot and Black Olive
  • Nut, Seed and Herb Salsas: Thai Peanut, Mine and Caramelized Shallot, Tejas Sunflower Seed
  • Ocean Salsas: Lobster, Crab and Corn, Mussel, Smoked Salmon
  • Exotic Salsas: Curried, Kim Chee, Roasted Coconut

Now, about that Lobster Salsa. It's lobster meat, plus oranges, lime, grapefruit, basil and hot sauce. And what do you do with it? Chips of course. But it can frost the top of tostada or it can be a side dish unto itself.

I think if you pick up a copy of The Great Salsa Book and start turning pages, you won’t stop. It’s just so funny to think, “I know all about salsa” and then encounter all these radical ideas. “I know nothing” is likely to be your next thought. Don’t beat yourself up. Start chopping chiles. Or visiting your fish monger.

This is the perfect party cookbook. Imagine a spread of appetizers that are all salsas. Some chile hot, some laden with corn, some fruity, and even a bowl of that lobster treat.

Plan on seeing surprised and very pleased faces.