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Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy (William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture) Hardcover – September 15, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
There's no doubt this is a beautiful book: hefty, easy to read glossy pages, ample pictures, numerous recipes.
HOWEVER... I judge a book's usefulness (to me) as how many recipes I think I will actually make.
A quick page through this book and it's clear there are VERY FEW.
It's a wonderful historic book that documents real recipes from the region (Offal, pig's head, iguana) and uses ingredients (with no substitutions) that are unaccessible (pozol leaf, yuca, cherimole, pasta de pluma, ouzi, chichilo...). The glossary gives little hint toward finding something that might be able to be used in place of something that we find unavailable outside the region, and merely gives a description of what 'it' is. The glossary is very abbreviated (and for instance does not even include any of those aforementioned ingredients). The index is sorted by region and is in Spanish. So if you saw a pork dish when you were looking through the book's 400 pages, the index will do little to help you find it again.
Diana Kennedy is a talented explorer of the Mexican culture and generous in her ability to provide us with a sense of it's recipes. I use her books as reference guides and bibles for Mexican cuisine. I understand that she wanted this book to be her book, to cover the 'real' Oaxaca her way, despite guidance from book publishers who wanted to make it more sellable. She's gained her fame and fortune, and is a place in her life where she is not desperate for the money off a book and can instead make decisions based on her heart and soul. I get all that. Good for here for standing by her principles.
However, had I had the opportunity review this book prior to purchasing, I would never have bought it, as I see myself rarely using it.
As earlier reviewers have noted there are plenty of recipes in "Oaxaca al Gusto" that are way beyond the means of even the most dedicated home cook. Afterall, how many people are really going to make wasp nest sauce or salsa for flying ants? While most people will never make these recipes, they are nevertheless fascinating to read about. In addition, Diana Kennedy's extraordinary photos bring an additional level of understanding.
While there are plenty of exotic recipes, they are also easily a couple of hundred recipes that can be attacked by any serious home cook with a little imagination. As the Mexican immigrant population has grown and moved throughout the United States, ingredients that ten years ago seemed exotic and impossible to find can now be found at number of neighborhood food stores. It may take a little work to find these ingredients but end result will yield a greater understanding of the diversity of Mexican food.
Diana Kennedy has spent the last forty five years wandering around Mexico's backroads in search of interesting recipes. She is the foremost expert on Mexican food in the world and "Oaxaca al Gusto" is truly her opus magnus. This book is not for the casual cook looking for recipes for Thursday Taco night. "Oaxaca al Gusto" is the culmination of Diana Kennedy's life's work. One can only pray that Diana Kennedy has it in her to produce one or two more classic books like this one. The highest recommendation.
My only complaint? The size and weight of the book itself. The format is coffee table style (providing that your coffee table is sturdy).
The weight makes the book unwieldy and difficult to use in a kitchen setting. I much prefer the way her other books were printed... easier to work with it a kitchen that will become cluttered when you get into working with Kennedy's recipes. That said, I am happy with the book overall and am ready to expand my Oaxacan culinary abilities.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful pictures, more a cocktail table book than a cookbook because of the need for too many unobtainable ingredients such as wild plant leaves.Published 7 months ago by St. LouisJazzerciser
Absolutely an incredible tome. Everything you could hope in a cookbook on Oaxaca. Definitely not a beginner's cookbook, but one for those who want to dig deeper into Mexican... Read morePublished 15 months ago by David M.
Womderful book! Great pictures! Awesome recipes! And it is heavy, a ton of knowledge packed into one amazing book! Buy!Published 20 months ago by wesley grubbs
I am a chef and have all of Dianna Kennedy's Books. I have used her work as refrence many times and truly
appreciate her contribution to the culinary arts but this creation... Read more
I put off purchasing this book because it is not a cheap cookbook. However, I finally broke down and purchased it for two reasons: I have other Diane Kennedy Mexican cookbooks... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Oregonian in New York
Diana Kennedy excels in this wonderful cookbook with lots of historical tidbits about the great cuisine of Oaxaca and Mexico.Published 21 months ago by Fritzi
It's a who's who of very local ingreients, some very obscure. I feel I could go back and find the ingredients and dishes she writes about. It's a triumph of locavore cooking. Read morePublished 24 months ago by edmund dy
Most extensive collection of recipes, excellent history of the various ingredients. A must for serious cooks or just people who enjoy reading cookbooks.Published on December 3, 2013 by Jackie G