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The Rancho Gordo Thread


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Isn't it about time we had a dedicated thread?   I just received my latest shipment – Yellow Indian Woman, Flor de Junio and Flageolets (all of which I've ordered before) plus Good Mother Stallard,

Curious thing happened today. I put about a 1/2 lb of Madeira beans in water to soak. A couple of hours later, many (maybe 40%) of the beans had split completely in half. I'm charging ahead anyway,

I've missed all you alls so very much. 

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It was an incredible day. grantk came and filmed most of the day so I hope to have a video soon. DK was in a great mood and signed books for hours. We had tamales from a local woman from Oaxaca that were mole and chicken, two types of beans from the oaxaca book and an incredible chorizo, also from the book, all by the Fatted Calf. Ceja vineyards poured and we also had mezcal. We sold over seventy books and ran out long before the event ended. The mayor came and declared today Diana Kennedy day in napa and then the language academy came and their framer school students did there mexican dances. It was just great.

Old timers here know how much diana kennedymeans to me so you'll indeed why I got a little emotional today.I've met some heros and been disappointed but not today. It was muy groovy. I am going to post pics tomorrow.

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Am I the only one troubled by the claim that the so-called "first lady of mexican cooking" is a white woman? That's pretty colonial-imperialist if yup ask me.

 

You are not the only one troubled by that. In fact, I'd even say that, at first glance, it's the single most-common reaction. It's certainly how I felt.

 

But then, when you learn her really pretty amazing story, she comes off as a rescuing angel, which is what she is.

 

She's a Brit, and moved to Mexico sometime in the mid-50's when her husband, a correspondent for the NYT, was stationed there. In those days, the wealthy classes of Mexico were unbelievably snobby about the foods of the Mexican indigenous and poorer classes. The upper class was besotted with all things European, even to the point of refusing corn tortillas in favor of European-style, refined-flour white breads. The native cuisine of the Indians and campesinos was in severe danger of being lost, as nobody that was in a position to document or save it saw it as being worth saving. It was just what "those poor people" ate, and only because they didn't know any better, and couldn't afford any better even if they did know. And nobody cared about those poor people anyway. How could it possibly matter what they ate?

 

Diana Kennedy, to her everlasting credit, recognized what a loss that would be. So she set about, pretty-much single-handedly, to rescue and document it. She traveled throughout the country, going from village to village, asking what were the dishes that the locals made, and who in the village made the best version. She went from humble kitchen to native market to backyard garden searching out ingredients and methods of preparation, most of which had never been written down.

 

Although others have since come to the party, now, some 50 years later, Diana Kennedy is still researching, still discovering, still studying, still writing, still documenting, and is considered, even by Mexicans, to be the world's number one authority on Mexican food. As far as being troubled by the fact that it took an outsider, a white woman - European even, raised in the so-called "superior" style to which the wealthy Mexicans aspired - to recognize the value of, to document, indeed probably to save the indigenous, native cuisines of Mexico, I suspect that the folks that are most "troubled," even embarrassed, by that are the the aristocracy of the Mexican food world.

 

As they should be.

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It's something, isn't it? how much DK means to us, how demanding she is, how uncannily fast she bonds and how she's made so many of us better cooks. And Yes! it was a great event and DK was happy and hilarious throughout. What I liked best was how varied the crowd was, in all ways, and how gracious, curious and receptive everyone was, both as she signed books and later when she answered questions. Plus you kept all moving parts going along in a lovely and unobtrusive way; you have a special touch. And yeah, the kids were really really cute.

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Congratulations, Steve. It sounds like this was a great event on a lot of levels. It is rare to be able to pull something like this off and have everyone satisfied.

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Can we expect the Giant Whiteys back anytime soon?

OMG I thought you were talking about his unmentionables...

 

And big congrats to you, Steve, and all your help at Rancho Gordo, for pulling off what sounds like an absolutely wonderful event on the 30th. Hip hip hooray!

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These are the few that are on my camera:

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The Fatted Calf made two bean dishes from DK's book and some great sausage, I think from beef. We used a sterno to heat the clay cazuelas and surrounded them with brick.

 

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My friend Glen was DK's assistant for much of the event.

 

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The kids from the Language Academy get ready for their big number.

 

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The kids also did a Veracruz number and the Mexican hat dance. I think it made people a little weak in the knees.

 

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Carrie Brown from Jimtown in Healdsburg brought some pan de muerto from the Oaxacan ladies in their kitchen. She was concerned that people thought she was wearing her orange scarf for the Giants when it was in fact for Days of the Dead.

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