My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey with More Than 300 Recipes

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9780609602478: My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey with More Than 300 Recipes

"Why my Mexico?" asks Diana Kennedy in her introduction to this long-awaited book. The answer is simple and obvious: it is a highly personal book about the Mexico she knows. And no one knows Mexico the way Diana does.     When Diana Kennedy first came to Mexico more than forty years ago, she did not intend to become the country's premier gastronome. But that is what she has become, traveling endlessly, learning the culinary histories of families, hunting elusive recipes, falling under the spell of the beauty of a countryside that produces such a wealth of foods. She has published five books and is referred to variously as the Julia Child, the Escoffier, and the high priestess of Mexican cooking. Most important, she has taken as her eternal project to record not only the wealth of Mexican culinary knowledge and folklore but also the fascinating stories behind it all.

My Mexico records Diana's recent wanderings, along with memories stored away from previous trips.    With wondrous, novelistic prose, Diana tells the story behind her discovery of each dish, from the Pollo Almendrado (Chicken in Almond Sauce) she discovered in Oaxaca to the Estafado de Raya (Skate Stewed in Olive Oil) that delighted her in Coahuila. Yes, there are some fairly simple recipes for inexperienced cooks--look for the new guacamoles and the addictive chilatas. More complicated ones are for aficionados who know the intricacies of the ingredients.      

Times have changed greatly since Diana published her first book. More and more ingredients are available in the U.S., and  more and more people have learned of the true joys of real Mexican cooking. One thing has not changed--Diana Kennedy's passion. For those who already are familiar with her work, this volume is a much-needed addition to your library. For those who are not, you are in for a treat of the first order.

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Review:

Every country should have a Diana Kennedy, someone steeped in its culture and cooking who cruises around recording all the local recipes and sharing them with the world. My Mexico is Kennedy's rambling record of forays in pursuit of dishes that might be of interest. Based on the recipes she found, such as Posole de Camarone, a brothy shrimp and dried-corn stew, sweet Green Mango Roll, and tiny new potatoes cooked Shepherd style, Kennedy's travels have been quite fruitful.

Anyone may enjoy the wealth of recipes in this book, but only connoisseurs of Mexican cooking familiar with the varied and regional nature of its food are likely to appreciate the unusual nature of Kennedy's finds. Concentrating on what is unique, the author refers readers to her previous five works on Mexico for fundamental techniques or other background. Even the method for making masa in My Mexico is an uncommon one, presented to Kennedy by the woman who waters her plants.

This literate work is rich in almost novelistic descriptions. Long passages describe her graphic observations. She shares her love of the country where she has lived since 1957 with equal measures of loving passion and curmudgeonly criticism.

Charts and photos help show the variety of chiles and other foods that help give Mexican cooking its constant, often subtle variety. When recipes call for pulque, a mildly fermented juice from the agave plant, sour tunas, a kind of cactus fruit, or other ingredients you can't get, move on to her more accessible dishes or, as Kennedy did, let this book be a journey of discoveries. --Dana Jacobi

From the Author:

I wanted this book to be different from the others--after all, how many times can you write about chiles, ingredients, and cooking methods? Few people know how amazing the landscape is in the pine-covered highlands or the tropical cloud forests that rise up from the Gulf Coast; even the semi-arid areas are dramatic and colorful in early spring. Several people have told me that while reading My Mexico they feel they are a passenger in my truck as I drive those scenic highways.

I would hope that future generations of Mexican Americans will read My Mexico and be able to picture where their families came from and the food they ate, and imagine the sort of land that produced some of those aromatic herbs and wild greens that I talk about. The extraordinary Swiss chef Fredy Giradet once said: "We must preserve our regional cuisines because they are our culinary foundations."

A few years ago I was doing some articles for a magazine called Mexico Desconocido (Unknown Mexico) in a series called La Receta Rescatada--The Rescued Recipe. I wanted to incorporate them because they form a fascinating part of what I call the "hidden gastronomy of Mexico" which includes many of the free foods found in the wild: how they are gathered and cooked. I feel strongly that this heritage should be recorded since its survival will be linked to sustainable agricultural practices and the conservation of the environment.

--Diana Kennedy, author of My Mexico

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Kennedy, Diana
Editorial: Clarkson Potter (1998)
ISBN 10: 0609602470 ISBN 13: 9780609602478
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Diana Kennedy
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Diana Kennedy
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