"Chiles are in our blood, my grandmother told me," McMahan writes, "I pictured rivers of dark chile flowing in our veins." That river of chiles flows not only in the veins of the Higueras, but throughout the history of cooking in California. Beginning with the Spaniards who, by necessity, borrowed culinary traditions from everyone from the Moors to the Indians, and merging with Mexican food drawn from Aztec and other Indian culinary traditions, Rancho cooking evolved as it was carried north through the Spanish territories in California. The Spanish brought with them their favorite foods--tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, corn, and of course chiles, to name a few--and the settlers perfected the art of barbecuing, which was so well suited to their outdoor lifestyle.
What will strike readers first about this book is that the cooking represented is a far cry from the typical Mexican fare we're used to. This food has a sophistication far beyond smashed beans and rice. Olives, figs, fresh herbs, squash blossoms, and pumpkins appear with surprising regularity, and olive oil, not lard, is the fat of choice for cooking. Of course you'll also find many of the dishes that we think of as standard Mexican fare--enchiladas, tamales, quesadillas--but all have a distinctly Rancho touch. Enchiladas are filled with seafood and napped with a velvety tomato-chipotle sauce, quesadillas are stuffed with squash blossoms and epazote leaves, and tamale dough gets extra flavor from olive oil in addition to the usual lard.
As much a history book as a cookbook, Rancho Cooking belongs on the shelf of anyone who calls him- or herself a connoisseur of California cuisine. --Robin Donovan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.