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Books on Mexican/Latin American Gastronomy


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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.

Well, due to some other posts by you and others, I started looking for her books. I now have Taste of mexico and Feasts of Life. And I have a new "must-do" when I'm next in Mexico!

 

Susana Trilling, I deeply respect, but some of her recipes are impossible because they don't list chile substitutions

 

I feel the same way. I know her school must be womderful but I don't think she's such a great writer. Her cookbook didn't inspire me and it's one of the few I've gotten rid of, having the Zarela Oaxaca book and knowing DK is working on what will probably be a seminal book on the region.

 

The title and cover are stupid but Marge Poore's 1000 Mexcian Recipes is very well-written and solid.

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I'm going to sound ignorant, but how do you describe Dominican food? It's more Caribbean, isn't it?

Sure, I love thinking about these categories. If, by Caribbean, you mean Barbadian or Jamaican, then no - absolutely not. The Dominican Republic, like Puerto Rico, is part of Latin America; the culture is Latino, strongly infused with French and African influences because the DR shares an island with (and won its independence from) French-speaking, African-cultured Haiti.

 

Dominican food is close to Puerto Rican food. The cuisine is based on a wide variety of readily available, mostly cheap carbs: yuca, plantains, potatoes, rice, name, yauta, cassava, bread and beans. The main flavorings are cilantro, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Protein is usually chicken, pork or goat; seafood is available but expensive unless you catch it yourself. Beef and lamb are rarely seen. One striking difference between Dominican (and indeed Puerto Rican food) and, say, Cuban or Mexican food, is that chilies aren't used - it is never spicy. The national dish, known as "la bandera" - the flag - is meat, rice and (pink) beans.

 

More details available on request.

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Susana Trilling, I deeply respect, but some of her recipes are impossible because they don't list chile substitutions

 

I feel the same way. I know her school must be womderful but I don't think she's such a great writer. Her cookbook didn't inspire me and it's one of the few I've gotten rid of, having the Zarela Oaxaca book and knowing DK is working on what will probably be a seminal book on the region.

 

I took a class with Susana Trilling, and find enough interesting in her books that I enjoy them. Especially "Seasons of My Heart." It's more personal.

 

And fans of Zarela might try "Mexican Family Cooking" by Aida Gabilondo. It's full of simple, home-cooking recipes. And Aida is Zarela's mom.

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The William Sonoma mini book, called Mexican is part of series they did. Super cheap, $16.95 US., with a good overview on classics. Ceviche, carnitas, margaritas, guac, carne asada, salpicon, tortilla soup, tostadas, etc., and some desserts. With a basic techniques page at the back, it is amazing what has been crammed into a small recipe book.

I can vouch for the recipes, as I helped test them :lol:

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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.

I knew I read this somewhere. I've been leafing through Feasts of Life lately. I got it fairly recently and have mostly oohed and ahhed at the pretty pictures but I'm starting to get into the recipes and you're right- I've never seen so much butter! And the ingredients! But you can read the recipe and get a pretty good idea of what's going on and adapt it to real world cooking.

 

Is she alone? I love olive oil and use it despite knowing it's not so authentic. I dislike canola oil and corn oil is fine except if you use it too much the house really starts to take it on as a scent. I sometimes use sunflower oil as it's very earthy but costly. I'm lucky if I use a cube of butter in 3 months.

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My only other Mexican cookbook published in Mexico is La Tradicional Cocina Mexicana y sus Mejores Recetas by Adela Fernandez, given to me as a present from a friend visiting Mexico. It is in Spanish and English and does quite a good job of making Mexican cooking look not very interesting. It's not actively bad (I don't think - haven't cooked from it) but it doesn't inspire me and I find the dual languages on each page distracting.

 

v

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I'm just mentioning books as I find them on my shelf.

 

Cantina by Feniger and Milliken is part of a Sunset book series that seems to be attempting to find Bistro equivelents in other cultures. Which is all fine but this book is about their creativity, not any actual cuisine. I like it enough to keep it.

 

The Food and Life of Oaxaca by Zarela Martinez. I was so excited when this book ('97) came out! I was just getting seriously into cooking and this book was ideal. But I have to admit now it seems more like an introduction and I haven't used it in years. But my copy is falling apart from use! When I saw Kennedy last year at a seminar she said she was working on a Oaxacan book. I hope it's narrow and deep!

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Hesitate to mention this for a couple of reasons, one of which is obvious, but the other is that these books are packed up in storage in Texas and I don't have access to them so can't go into any detail.

 

But.

 

One thing I do when I travel is to seek out the local community fundraising cookbooks. Sometimes these are put out by local folks -- churches, civic organizations, newspapers -- and sometimes the American expat community. I have some really good ones. Puerto Vallarta, Chapala, Panama City come to mind.

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