There's something awfully comforting about a cookbook that starts with a chapter on what to drink (which beers with which kinds of food) followed by eight cocktail recipes, five of them a variation on the margarita theme. Hibiscus Margaritas and Mango-Key Lime Margaritas should tip off the unsuspecting that they have just entered uncharted territory.
The drink chapter is followed by the salsa chapter (Papaya-Habanero Salsa, anyone?) is followed by breakfast--Truffled Egg Tacos? Bacon-Gruyere Migas? "What a cathartic joy it is," writes Robb Walsh, former food editor of the Austin Chronicle and one of the few American food writers with functioning taste buds, "to make a happy face with two sunny-side up eggs for eyes and bacon strips for a mouth, and to douse that cheerful bastard with a torrent of fiery red sauce." With sentiments like that, the reader is assured that only good food can follow.
And follow it does: Steak, Endive, and Blue Cheese Tacos; Shark-BLT Tacos; Serrano Ham Quesadillas; Pork and Raisin Pasillas; Wild Mushroom Mole Enchiladas; Duck Breast in Green Mole; Chipotle Swordfish Fajitas; and on into desserts.
The authors would like us to believe that this is a whole new departure on Tex-Mex food. And it certainly is that, a departure. But what they call Nuevo Tex-Mex is really just the same contrived "fusion" that happens when overamped chefs shove cuisines and ingredients of the world up against each other. There isn't anything in this book that couldn't be put on a pizza, say, and if baked in a wood-fired oven, be called startling and revolutionary in some circles. Many of the results of David Garrido's fun-in-the-kitchen escapade are indeed tasty, but benchmark of a new cuisine? Hardly that. This could only happen in America, where the culinary compass is currently in the control of a gentle-voiced Chihuahua with a taste for Taco Bell. --Schuyler Ingle
Nuevo Tex Mex
is definitely onto something: Great gutsy cooking that combines the irascible charm of the 'old' Tex-Mex with the genius of regional Mexican kitchens. Rick Bayless, author of Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
Food historians ten or twenty years hence might well call it a benchmark, a book that shows, through 98 engaging recipes, and a lively, enlightening text, where a major element of Texas cooking has been and where it might well be headed. Texas Monthly