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I am of Mexican descent. I have avoided Restaurants and cookbooks that try to pass themselves off as "Mexican", for years. The recipes in this Tome so remind me of my childhood, that the book is falling apart. Rick truly knows his subject. Any one seriously interested in the cuisine must seek out this book.
I live in Southern California surrounded by countless Mexican Restaurants of all levels of quality. Sadly most are sub par greasy cheese and dry rice joints. The recipes I have prepared in this book make the countless combo-number-whatever's pale in comparison. The author explains the reasons for this in the books beginning introduction.
What consistently jumps at me in this book is the author's passion for Mexican cuisine. He hits at the heart of the real Mexican food culture and makes a clear distinction between Mexican "street food" (the informal more popular dishes prevalent across the US) and the traditional, authentic dishes of various regions in Mexico. There is a reason why the latter is not as popular in the US... it takes a lot of time and energy to create the elaborate authentic dishes. You need to find a restaurant that cares about quality dishes AND can pull it off in mass quantity... or you can make it yourself with some help from this book.
The author also puts the real star ingredient at the forefront of these traditional delights - Chiles. Chiles of all shapes, sizes and levels of spiciness can be found in many of the recipes. These different dried and fresh chilies complete the complexity of the recipes and should not be substituted... if they aren't available where you live and you want to do it right then find a way... order it online!
My favorite section has to be the Moles (pronounced like Mo-lay, not like the small mammal or skin growth). I love the history provided at the beginning of this chapter. I have personally made the Mole Verde and Mole Rojo multiple times. I have made the Mole Poblano only once... it takes about 6 hours... very good and worth it once in a while.Read more ›
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`Authentic Mexican' by notable Chicago chef and Mexican cuisine expert, Rick Bayless and wife Deann Groen Bayless is easily one of the very best books on basic Mexican cuisine. For a subject which is so big that Bayless has devoted at least three other books to it, not to mention the five thick volumes from fellow Mexico culinarian Diana Kennedy, it is hard to describe this as a comprehensive treatment of Mexican cuisine, as it weights in at only 380 pages, compared to the over 450 pages Penelope Casas devotes to much smaller Spain and 480 pages Diana Kochilas devotes to even smaller Greece. But don't let any of this put you off. This is, I am certain, one of the very best sources of information on true Mexican food for us gringos. I am almost certain that Bayless' coverage of Mexico is much better for the state of Oaxaca than for many other regions. I see this name pop up far more than any others and I have read that this is one of his favorite parts of Mexico.
The stated impetus to Bayless' writing this book lies in the fact that in spite of the close contact between Mexico and the United States, Mexican food in the US has undergone the same kind of metamorphosis as we find in Italian-American food.
It is an interesting exercise to highlight what is distinctive about Mexican cooking to cite the differences between Mexican and Spanish cuisines.
While Spanish cuisine is all about olives and grapes, neither of these two products transplanted well to Mexico. Thus, Mexico did not acquire any taste for many of the things you can do with olive oil and vinegar. For these key tastes, they had animal fat and citrus juice. While Spain took to the tomato and the potato, they did not take to corn (maize).Read more ›
I am a third and final year culinary student at a college in Columbus, Ohio. I've read a lot of texts and cookbooks in my life. I wanted to take the time and get online to comment on this book. I see and buy a lot of cookbooks that give you the good recipes but very little knowledge of the foods that you are cooking and how they will react to the processes that you will be putting them through. Five stars to this great piece of writing.
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As a Mexican, I was actually a bit skeptical about this book - I mean a white guy writing about Mexican cooking? Come on! I am very happy to say that Rick Bayless proved me wrong. He knows his stuff. I've tried several of his recipes, including the green and poblano moles, the corn-husk wrapped fish in adobo [slightly spicy barbeque-ish seasoning paste], pozole [pork and hominy soup], and a few side dishes. None of the dishes have disappointed. Quite the opposite, the result is always quite good. The flavors are authentic and remind me of the dishes prepared by my mom, aunts and grandmothers. Yes, some of the dishes - the poblano mole in particular - are a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort, and even better than my mom's [sorry, mom!]. Not all the recipes are high maintenance though, and there are some wonderful dishes that can be prepared with minimal effort. This book is not for those looking to make a ground beef burrito, but if you love the taste of authentic Mexican food and are willing to invest a little bit of time, you are in for a treat. Mr. Bayless starts out with salsas and basic seasoning sauces and pastes, then moves on to heartier dishes, some of them involving those same salsas, sauces and pastes, so there is some cross-referencing between recipes. I previously read reviews where some people thought that was too much work, but I didn't mind flipping back to a previous page for a home-made sauce that was part of another recipe. He has side notes and tips on a lot of the recipes that help the person making the dish stay on track to a tasty end result, and in some cases with hard to find ingredients, he offers alternatives that are just as good.Read more ›