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Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico Hardcover – November 9, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

Right at the tip of the poblano chile that makes up the bulk of Mexico, right where the land squeezes together and pushes the Yucatán Peninsula out into the Atlantic Ocean, you'll find the state of Oaxaca. It's kind if a round state, like a grapefruit with a handle. Only Chiapas is further south, and beyond that lies Guatemala. This is to say that the Mexican cuisine Susana Trilling presents in her wonderful, informative book Seasons of My Heart has nothing to do with the generic food of the border. She follows in the tradition of Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, Zarela Martinez, Patricia Quintana, and Marilyn Tausend, both when setting a table and setting a standard.

Part of Oaxaca butts up against the Pacific Ocean; part of it is lost in the mountains. In between are valleys and plains. Susana Trilling lives, works, and raises her family in Oaxaca. Her knowledge of her adopted land is indeed intimate--and delicious. Take a restaurant owner and caterer out of New York and drop her in Oaxaca and it's guaranteed that she's going to zero in on the food and its traditions. Some Oaxacan food has roots in Spanish cuisine, but most of it is, well, Oaxacan, and has been that way since time untold. In Seasons of My Heart, Trilling walks the interested visitor through all the different regions and foodstuffs of Oaxaca. This book is like interactive anthropology: you read about Oaxaca, then you eat the food, filling your house with the cooking aromas of another land.

Trilling divides her book into chapters that reflect the distinct regions of the state, finishing up with chapters on mole, updated recipes for the modern kitchen and palate, and essential ingredients to make the food happen. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

Trilling (owner of a cooking school in Oaxaca City) has done for Mexico what so many have already achieved for Italy: she has picked one of its most culinarily rich areas, the state of Oaxaca, and explored it in depth. The results are outstanding. Chapters are arranged by region, with a few extra chapters on mole sauces and innovative twists on traditional cuisine. The chapter on the Ca?ada region offers Chiled Chicken Wrapped in Herbs and Banana Leaves, and Layered Mango Pudding. The coastal region provides several fish dishes such as Shrimp and Potato Cakes with jalape?os and queso fresco, and Warm, Spicy Shark Salad. Throughout, Trilling evinces a fond understanding of her adopted home and shares stories that personalize the recipes, such as the description of her relationship with Bartola Morales, founder of a local human rights organization in the Tuxtepec region and an expert on the local cuisine. The chapter on the seven moles of Oaxaca is simultaneously funny and reverent of the tradition behind such complex pastes as Oaxacan Black Mole, with peanuts, cinnamon and five kinds of chiles, among many other ingredients. A chapter on essential ingredients (many of which readers may find difficult to acquire) includes a list of mail-order sources and several helpful glossaries. Trilling triumphs in taking Mexican cuisine far beyond the knowledge of most American audiences. (Nov.) FYI: Seasons of My Heart is a companion to the author's PBS cooking series.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (November 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345425960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345425966
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Susana Trilling has been able to very capably capture the richness of Oaxacan cuisine. Oaxacan cuisine is not limited to the typical Mexican food known in the States such as tacos, burritos, and the like. It is much more than this with a world of different colors, textures, smells, and attractive presentations based on its varied ingredients and methods of preparation. Furthermore, Oaxacan cuisine has a heritage which goes back to important pre-colonial civilizations such as the Zapotecs.
My husband is from Oaxaca (from a town in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec). Since our marriage, I have fallen in love with Oaxaca, its colorful people and culture, and its cuisine. We often travel there and enjoy caldo de mariscos (an exquisite seafood soup), mole negro (black mole), tlayudas (big, crispy tortillas filled with, amongst other things, black beans and Oaxaca cheese), etc. Susana Trilling has captured these and other recipes very accurately to allow people to reproduce these recipes in the States and introduce them to family and friends who, without a doubt, will be delighted by this flavorful cuisine.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Cherity R. Foat on December 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I return to this book over and over again as the recipes have delicious flavor!
However, I have found numerous mistakes that should have been caught during recipe testing before going to print. For example, the process for rehydrating masa harina in the recipes for tamales will produce unedible dough. (not enough water) Of course, the recipes were written for fresh masa, but this should have been caught in the testing process.
Another recipe that flopped was for Alegrias (Mexican Amaranth Candy). In Mexico, amaranth is typically available in the pre-puffed state. However, in the US it is typically unpuffed. (found this out in another recipe disaster) The recipe worked perfectly when I used the pre-puffed Mexican amaranth.
When the recipes work, they are spectacular! Just be watchful!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Some twelve years ago chef Susan Trilling said goodbye to an alive New York City catering business to follow her heart to a remote and exotic region of Mexico - Oaxaca. Today, deep in the heart of this Mexican state is Rancho Aurora, home of the Seasons of My Heart cooking school and inn.
A companion to the well received National Public Television Series, Seasons of My Heart is a tribute to the people, culture and cuisine of this far-off area which has remained virtually untouched. "Oaxaca invites a deep appreciation of Mexican culture," the author writes. "Here time has stood still in the small village where I went to visit my husband for the first time. I was enchanted with every burro laden with corn going to the mill, every horse-drawn cart filled with alfalfa for the cows and horses......"
A veritable armchair travelogue, this colorfully illustrated volume takes readers to a tomato lunch in the field, to harvest time by dawn, to a traditional wedding feast, and to see a primitive altar laden with dishes for religious holidays.
Trilling wisely not only shares these treasured recipes, but offers her personal alterations and advice for successfully preparing them in American kitchens. Imagine sitting down to a platter of "Tamales De Ragas" (Chile and Tomato Tamales) with its appetizing marriage of sweet tomatoes and onions or "Empanadas De Mole Amarillo (Baked Mole Amarillo Turnovers), which are often prepared to order on charcoal grills set up outside local churches.
Seasons Of My Heart nurtures not only bodies, but minds and imaginations as well.

- Gail Cooke
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Trent on December 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
After recently attending a cooking class by Susana Trilling, I can attest to the wonderful recipes in this book. Not only that, but Susana is a wonderful person with great knowledge of the culture.
However impressive the recipes may be though, there is a huge problem with this book. Many of the recipes in the book call for ingredients that can't be found even in a speciality mexican store, and some are unique to Oaxaca itself. While this in itself is not a problem, Susan does not provide any help with suitable substitutions for those unique ingredients. For an advanced cook maybe this isn't a problem, but for a beginner or intermediate cook, this makes the book nearly unusable. In general, the recipes are quite involved and complex in comparison to other mexican cook books I have seen.
I would not recommend this book to someone who is newer to cooking or does not live in an area where an ample supply of mexican cooking ingredients can be found. Perhaps Susana will make a second addition for us newbie cooks that provides us with better alternatives.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By jumpy1 on August 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just want to concur with the other reviews and add that Susana Trilling is a brilliant chef, period -- in Mexican cooking or otherwise. I don't understand it, but she really knows how to balance flavors in a way that is unique, compared to similar recipes I've followed. What makes one chef good and another great? I don't know - but she's got it, whatever it is!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Juan Cardenas on March 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Seasons of my Heart is the best book on Mexican recipes from Oaxaca I have ever read and owned. Living in Columbus, Ohio I have been able to find all of the ingredients required for most recipes. There are individual recipes which by themselves would make this book worthwhile owning. To name just a couple of these, the basic chicken stock recipe, the tortilla soup recipe and the three milk cake are extraordinary and easy. It is well written and the instructions are easy to follow. It is a very treasured cookbook in my collection. Anybody who enjoys great food, and in particular Mexican food should have this book.
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