Dinner With Diego's Daughter

An excited overflow crowd filled the downtown Jalisco location on a sultry Tuesday evening to chat and dine with Dr. Guadalupe Rivera Marin, daughter of famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Dr. Rivera Marin is the author of Frida's Fiestas, Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo. The evening was billed as an opportunity to sample dishes from her lovely cookbook (Chronicle Vol.14, No.44, July 7, 1995) and listen to stories of her childhood experiences in the home of her father and his second wife, the painter Frida Kahlo.

The gala evening was the first major fundraiser benefitting Mexic-Arte Museum and looked to be a solid financial success with a literal "Who's Who" of the local Hispanic business, restaurant, and arts communities in attendance. Kudos to the corporate sponsors and the organizers, museum board, and staff for creating a successful event. Jalisco owners Mr. and Mrs. Miguel Stoupignan and their chef Juan Flores are to be commended for the fine renditions of Dr. Rivera Marin's recipes. The Ensalada Nopalito (Nopale Cactus Salad), Crema de Cacahuate (Cream of Peanut Soup) and Flan Pinon (Pine Nut Flan) were special standouts.

A pre-dinner conversation with the Stoupignans, natives of Monterrey, Mexico, revealed that they were also the owners of one of my all-time favorite local Mexican restaurants, Tula. Though Tula was only open in the UT area for about two years in the booming mid-Eighties, it made a lasting impression on my tastebuds and I was thrilled to hear that the Stoupignans and chef Flores have been working some of Tula's interior Mexican dishes into the primarily Tex-Mex Jalisco menu. That alone will make Jalisco worth another visit.

Serving the same meal to nearly 300 people all at once is significantly different than serving the same number of people a varied restaurant menu over the course of an evening, and the harried Jalisco staff did an admirable job of keeping the large crowd happy. The crowded multi-level dining area made service quite a challenge and it also made most of the speeches unintelligible in many portions of the building. Although the evening was promoted as an opportunity to hear Dr. Rivera Marin reminisce about life in the Rivera/Kahlo household, she barely mentioned Frida Kahlo and instead wasted our time voicing her opinion that her book lost the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award this year to the excellent, encyclopedic Jewish Cooking in America because of the number of Jewish people living in New York City where the awards were presented.

Because the evening's speeches offered no insight into life in the Blue House in Coyoacan and a scheduled interview to discuss the recipes with the author never materialized, the day proved to be somewhat of a disappointment through no fault of the museum or the restaurant. Luckily, the cookbook Frida's Fiestas is exquisite, with delicious recipes, fascinating recuerdos (memories), and lovely photos of Kahlo, her home, and her artworks. I recommend that you invest an afternoon at Mexic-Arte, dine quietly at Jalisco, and then spend the rest of the evening enjoying the cookbook.

- Virginia B. Wood

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