on the range

The Most Personal of Cookbooks

Author chronicles discovery of Mexican cuisine through travel

By Virginia B. Wood, 11:55AM, Thu. Oct. 24, 2013

The Most Personal of Cookbooks
courtesy University of Texas Press

While the title might strike some as proprietary, Diana Kennedy has indeed made Mexico her own, embracing the people and the culture through her exhaustive study of Mexican cuisine over the past fifty years.

My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey with Recipes

by Diana Kennedy

(University of Texas Press, ppg. 448, $39.95)

Kennedy's eight published books on Mexican cooking are recognized as definitive works on the subject that have transcribed and codified examples of regional Mexican dishes that might otherwise have been lost. Even the Mexican government has awarded her their highest honor, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, for her promotion of Mexican culture through its cuisine. Simply put, Kennedy’s books are required reading for anyone who is serious about Mexican cooking.

This newly updated edition of the most personal of all Kennedy’s books is a culinary travelogue complete with engaging stories, well-researched recipes, and photographs. However, don’t expect glossy, food porn glamour shots. What you’ll see are candid snapshots of people, places, and ingredients discovered during Kennedy’s travels over the depth and breadth of her adopted country; peppers drying in the sun, barbacoa being wrapped in maguey leaves, and home cooks preparing mole. Some of the rural recipes here may seem too esoteric to authentically recreate in an American home kitchen without the regional Mexican peppers, cheeses, or rustic cooking techniques on which they are based. However, there are plenty of approachable recipes, many with substitution suggestions for easier shopping and preparation. My Mexico is a delicious, adventurous read, regardless of whether or not it ever makes it into the kitchen.

Diana Kennedy will speak at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 26 in the Capitol Extension, E2.016 from 4:15-5:00pm

Keep up with all of our Texas Book Festival coverage at austinchronicle.com/texas-book-festival.

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