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Books on Mexican/Latin American Gastronomy


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Just realized how frequently this topic of books comes up on food discussion web sites. On eG they wanted to know how many you had. I'm more interested in what you have - on specialized topics and subjects, in this case, Mexico as well as the rest of Latin America.

 

As some of you likely know by now I should never be allowed into a book store when off a leash. Every time I go to Mexico I take an empty suitcase (extra lg) which manages to get filled up w/books. I justify this in part by reminding myself that the printing runs there are much, much smaller than here, and when they are gone, they are gone. So I now have several really fascinating books on Mexico, food, history, etc. I enjoy them, but feel slightly guilty that they are not in a more publicly accessible place. Anc certainly a list of authors/titles, ISBN's can go a long way toward helping someone else find a book of interest to them. I usually go to Mexico 1-2 times a year, and would be happy to bring books back and ship them from Texas. The real kicker is the horrendous cost of shipping from Mexico to the States. I guess this is not something that NAFTA intends to regulate -

 

Anyway, is there any other interest out there for this? I will likely also make the offer on www.mexicofood.org, a new site that will be up and running very shortly. If you read Spanish, you will be delighted by the quantity and quality of food scholarship going on in Mexico. If you didn't know better, you'd think they were French!!!!

 

 

Theabroma

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Sounds like a great idea!

 

I'd like to know what in particular we're looking for....Everybody doing Latin cuisine...including TexMex, NewMex/Mex, California/Mex, ArizMex....everything?

 

Or are we trying to hold it to books specifically about Mexican/Mex?

 

And I'll admit that I'm at something of a disadvantage here because most of my cookbooks are in boxes in storage back in Austin.

 

I only brought a few...including Diana Kennedy, Susana Trilling, and the Mexican Family Cookbook, among a few others.

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I have one right here that you might find interesting: La Cocina Poblana, Ediciones Ciceron, 5th edition 1954, paperback. No author that I can see. I bought it some years ago from a UK specialist cookbook dealer. The rather attractive coloured cover has subsequently fallen off despite efforts to take care of it and not having cooked from it. Most annoying.

 

A large part of this book is just bog-standard Spanish-style cooking. Then every now and then it vears off into things profoundly Mexican. Not easy to use - I went through it recently looking for stuff I might find cookable and struggled.

 

v

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I'd like to know what in particular we're looking for....Everybody doing Latin cuisine...including TexMex, NewMex/Mex, California/Mex, ArizMex....everything?

 

Or are we trying to hold it to books specifically about Mexican/Mex?

 

And I'll admit that I'm at something of a disadvantage here because most of my cookbooks are in boxes in storage back in Austin.

 

I only brought a few...including Diana Kennedy, Susana Trilling, and the Mexican Family Cookbook, among a few others.

I think whatever we are interested in, whatever we think fits - it can be anyting from Montezuma's mother-in-law's roast leg of captive to El Chico's finest. Whatever floats the boat.

 

Most of my books are in storage, too. I have my Mx books out, and, unfortunately, never miss a chance to add to the collection.

 

I have a lot of Mx/Mx, in Spanish, plus DK, plus Quintana, Jamison, Zaslavsky, Martinez, etc. and lotsa regional stuff.

 

Theabroma

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Oh, I love the term Mex/Mex, that is very good.

I am still a novice, but I have all of D.K's books because her recipes work and there is so much information in them that is truthfull and well documented. And she gives credit where credit is due.

I have most of Bayless' books, preferring the older ones. Zazlavsky, good work although her travel book is very out of date. The Williams-Sonoma mini book on Mexican food is good.

Susana Trilling of course, and then it moves into oddities I've picked up; a book on salsas by the Mexican women of the Anderson Valley and an older book from the '80's by Sharon Cadwallader.

I have two books by Sophie Coe, one about America's First Cuisines and the other on the true history of chocolate, both great reference books and fascinating to discover the origins of food and how they moved around to other countries. (Where would Italian cuisine be without the tomato?!)

I have a Jeffrey Pilcher book on Que vivan los tamales.

I am looking for an English version of the chile relleno book by Ricardo Munoz and Carmen Rameriz's book, also an English version. I know they don't exist yet, but I'm still hoping.

 

shelora

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I have two books by Sophie Coe, one about America's First Cuisines and the other on the true history of chocolate, both great reference books and fascinating to discover the origins of food and how they moved around to other countries. (Where would Italian cuisine be without the tomato?!)

 

.

 

 

I am looking for an English version of the chile relleno book by Ricardo Munoz and Carmen Rameriz's book, also an English version. I know they don't exist yet, but I'm still

 

 

Coe is my favorite. And the True History of Chocolate is the best best out there

 

 

 

Munoz has published an updated second edition, and claims that it is being translated. Also his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy is pretty wonderful - but only available in Spanish. I just got a copy of his Verde en la Cocina Mexicana. I hear he plans to do Blanco and Rojo - the colors of the flag too cool!

 

Sharon

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This might be a better follow-up post to the Josefina books, but I have a weird Mexico Through My Kitchen WIndow by Maria A. de Carbia. Apparently is translated form the Spanish and customized for American kitchens! What a grand idea!

 

The middle- and high-class people eat tortillas instead of bread once in a while"for a change", especially accompanying some chile dishes, but they use them mainly for the confection of some fancy dishes as enchiladas.

 

And luckily, she provices this recipe for making authentiv tortillas at home:

 

White cornmeal, salt, milk, cooking oil and eggs.

 

It's copyright 1961. There is also a large section on appetizers but it's mostly canapes shaped like sombreros.

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This might be a better follow-up post to the Josefina books, but I have a weird Mexico Through My Kitchen WIndow by Maria A. de Carbia. Apparently is translated form the Spanish and customized for American kitchens! What a grand idea!

 

The middle- and high-class people eat tortillas instead of bread once in a while"for a change", especially accompanying some chile dishes, but they use them mainly for the confection of some fancy dishes as enchiladas.

 

And luckily, she provices this recipe for making authentiv tortillas at home:

 

White cornmeal, salt, milk, cooking oil and eggs.

 

It's copyright 1961. There is also a large section on appetizers but it's mostly canapes shaped like sombreros.

Ha ha....thought about mentioning that one, but figured nobody else would have heard of it. That's actually the first Mexican cookbook I ever got. It was a wedding present back in 1969. It's edited by Helen Corbitt...the patron saint of old-style Texas junior league cooking. She was the food consultant at Neiman Marcus in Dallas (I believe) for many years.

 

Yep, good old Helen. But I love the name of that book, and the photograph on the dust jacket still is my idea of a dream kitchen overlooking the beautiful Mexican countryside.

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I have most of Bayless' books, preferring the older ones.

I missed most of his show but One Plate at a Time is nice because it also has a lot of theory, not just recipes. I was surprised how much I enjoyed just reading it.

Zazlavsky, good work although her travel book is very out of date.

I got this book when I was reading a lot of DK and quotes like: Fewer things in life can beat sitting in Lupe's kitchen sipping her just-made hot chocolate during an August thunderstorm. made me squirm. She's probably a fine cook.

The Williams-Sonoma mini book on Mexican food is good.

Is this a new book or highlights from the big Savoring Mexico by Tausend? She's great and I also like that book she did about Mexican Americans.

I have two books by Sophie Coe, one about America's First Cuisines and the other on the true history of chocolate,

I love America's First Cuisines, I just wish there were more bean references!

 

I admit I am a Mexican and New World food book addict, too, although I'm still stuck mostly in English. In Oaxaca I got Los Moles de mi Abuela which looks good but I've never gotten around to really studying it.

 

Another good one, despite the title and coffe table look is The Mexican Gourmet. I've used lots of recipes from this one. the mushroon- cascabel soup is swell and easy.

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Right-on Jaymes. Ole' Helen Corbitt was the doyenne of the Zodiac Room at Neimans for a century at least. Her poppyseed dressing is still one of the high points of "Ladies Who Lunch" cuisine. Wasn't she also the one who launched King Ranch Chicken? That one will still get the Jr League a-droolin'.

 

When I was 5, I thought the Z room was the coolest place on earth. At 15, I went to lunch there w/my mother, aunt, and a couple of cousins. Ordered a Heineken and got served. My mother worked me over something fierce when we got home. A lovely lady, but no sense of adolescent humor. Of course, I had flopped her over a barrel ... she'd die rather than create a scene in public by tearing into me.

 

I've thought about this and pondered my bookcases, and realized that a lot of what I have is history, anthropology, etc. Like a 2 vol Historia del Azucar en Mexico, and stuff like that. And then the regional stuff telling you how to cook armadillo and zurillo, etc.

 

I like the description of the tortillas w/cornmeal, eggs, milk, etc. Actually I'm rther fond of cornmeal dumplings and pancakes, but those would make lousy chilaquiles.

 

What is everyone's sense of how faithful to Mexico as opposed to how cleaned up for North American tastes a lot of these books are? I generally trust DK and Bayless, but don't really know what to make of the others. Jane Butel from New Mx lost me, for example, when she proclaimed that chile serrano is hardly every used green. ?????!!!!!!

 

Actually, when you get a new book how do you go about evaluating the recipes? What attracts you - what repels you? Well, obviously, odd, expensive, and hard to get ingredients are a put-off, but that's not quite what I mean. For example, I have all of Patricia Quintana's books, including one only in Spanish (Puebla, la Cocina de los Angeles - hands down her best). But if you look at the first two, Tastes of Mexico (?) and Feasts of Life, and read some of those recipes, you know that something is really off: quarts of cream, slabs of butter, and a bride's dowry of olive oil, all in the same recipe. 25 ingredients is not uncommon. I've never seen anything quite like it. Even most mole recipes don't get that crazy. So I usually enjoy her info, and the photos, and the styling, but I don't turn to her book when I need to check something I'm about to cook.

 

Well, that was a disorganized ramble!!!! Sorry

 

Theabroma

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"What is everyone's sense of how faithful to Mexico as opposed to how cleaned up for North American tastes a lot of these books are?"

 

I respect D.K.'s books because she does remain true to the recipe for the most part. Bayless has created his own lingo and translated authentic recipes for the American and Canadian household.

Both authors know how to write/describe a recipe, that makes it a joy to cook with.

 

When I buy a new cookbook, I cook extensively from it. And I make sure the ingredient list, has foods I can readily obtain in my neck of the woods.

 

I also look for authenticity or rather I compare what little I know about Mex/mex to the descriptions of the recipes. For example, if a recipe asks for cornmeal to make tortillas, that book will probably be transferred to a pile of things slated for the local thrift store.

 

Yes, I was immediately suspect when I read Quintana's first book with lots of cream and butter, nothing like I had eaten in Mexico. So I have never purchased her books, but want to eat at her restaurant, Izote, because her approach has changed.

 

Susana Trilling, I deeply respect, but some of her recipes are impossible because they don't list chile substitutions like D.K.'s and some recipes list quantites of more obscure chiles not in my collection. At least with D.K. there are good chile substitutions.

 

s

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I just mentioned on a different thread Juan B. Nina's El Origen de la Cocina Dominicana - in addition to the obvious recipes, it has a clear, well-supported account of the development of Dominican cuisine from its Taino routes, through its African, Spanish, French and even English influences. I don't believe it's available in English, but the Spanish is not hard to follow if you speak a little.

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I've learned most of my mexican cooking from watching/helping mexican women cook (special thanks to maria in chicago and alejandra in oaxaca). The things they taught me to make (mole, chilequiles, posole, etc.) are almost identical to the procedures that bayless uses in his first book. i really think he should have quit writing books after the first one, his other ones seem to me to simply rehash the recipes.

 

another book i really like is Susanna Palazuelos

mexico the beautiful. great photography.

 

somewhere i have a sma;l paperback guatemelan cookbook and a cookboox from the chefs at the quintana real hotels, but i can't find either at the moment.

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