DIANA KENNEDY has devoted almost all of her fifty years in Mexico
to studying the nation's cuisine and culture. The author of The
Art of Mexican Cooking, My Mexico, The Essential Cuisines of
Mexico, and From My Mexican Kitchen, as well as
Nothing Fancy in English and Spanish, she is considered the
leading authority on Mexican food, and the government has awarded
her its highest honor, the order of the Aztec Eagle.
The intrepid Kennedy ( The Cuisines of Mexico ) here gives us an excellent new collection of traditional Mexican recipes and keenly observed culinary habits, crisscrossing her adopted country with the zeal of Sir Francis Drake. From a Yucatan fisherman she gathers regional secrets for preparing an octopus dish, and a recipe for steamed cactus is surrendered by a bus driver. Celebrating the increasing availability of Mexican ingredients in North America, and aiming ``to perfect things,'' Kennedy has modified recipes from previous books for partisans of ``honest, authentic food,'' urging us to process tamale dough from dried corn and grind it at home. Plucking a chicken or stuffing blood sausage may be too much for the faint-hearted, but accessible dishes are presented in abundance (e.g., Mexican masa ball soup). Kennedy's labor of love and scholarship belongs in the home library as a chronicle of culinary culture, regardless of whether or not cooks decide to turn their kitchens into cantinas. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Kennedy, a widely respected authority on Mexican cooking, devotes her latest book to the country's traditional popular foods. She presents unquestionably authentic recipes for these regional specialties, supplying background material and careful preparation notes for each; there are whole chapters devoted to corn and ``the pig,'' as well as invaluable descriptions of chiles and unfamiliar ingredients. Inexperienced cooks may find some of the recipes daunting, but anyone with an interest in Mexican cuisine will be fascinated.