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The Essential Cuisines of Mexico: Revised and updated throughout, with more than 30 new recipes. Hardcover – October 17, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Can it be 30 years since Diana Kennedy's first cookbook was published? Since then, and due largely to her, Americans have learned that Mexican food isn't just burritos and combination plates, but a subtle, highly developed repertoire with roots in European as well as native Mexican cooking. The Essential Cuisines of Mexico combines in one book Kennedy's first three works, The Cuisines of Mexico, The Tortilla Book, and Mexican Regional Cooking. Updated and revised, and with 30 new recipes to make more than 300 in all, the compilation is instantly the definitive English-language exploration of Mexican cooking.

In 20 chapters--from appetizers to sweets and drinks--the book presents old friends like Pozole de Jalisco and chile con queso, and new delights, including pico de gallo with peaches, Arroz à la Tumbada (rice with seafood), Pollo en Cuiclachoce (chicken in a sauce made with cuitlacoche, the wonderfully exotic corn fungus), snacks from Yucatán cantinas, and a delicious barbecued chicken from Chiapus. The recipe revisions reflect increased ingredient availability and our evolved appreciation of the Mexican palate (Kennedy now requires fresh poblano chilies in her Sopa de Elote, for example, and instructs that they be charred). The sections on masa "fantasies" and tortillas bring together a wide range of these corn-based treats, including Garnachas Yucatecas (delicious filled masa tartlets). With a comprehensive glossary and essays such as "A Weekend Barbecue in Oaxaca," the book reminds us of Kennedy's great contribution to our culinary pleasure, and the recipes that made it possible. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

HThe prolific Kennedy revisits her adopted homeland in The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, a compilation of her first three books (The Cuisines of Mexico, The Tortilla Book and Mexican Regional Cooking). From Nuevo Le"n to the Yucatan, Kennedy strives to retain the authenticity of regional recipes: "I have simplified the recipes when possible, bringing them up to date without losing the spirit of their generation." Chapters reflect an assemblage of courses, including appetizers, corn dough cakes, vegetables, meats, egg dishes, light meals, sauces and relishes, sweet pastries and drinks. The concluding "general information" section provides helpful tips on equipment, chiles, cheeses, spices, herbs and other ingredients indigenous to Mexican cookery. Chapter introductions and detailed anecdotes (e.g., "A Weekend and Barbecue in Oaxaca") offer engaging glimpses of local Mexican life. Recipes will beguile aficionados searching for the "real Mexican deal," with a cornucopia of earthy ingredientsDlike calf's tongue, pig's feet, tripe "of different textures," pork lardDand exotic flavors, such as machaca (dried salted beef), nopoles (cactus paddles) and cuiclacoche (corn fungus). For novices, there are appealing, easy-to-make comfort foods, like Angel Hair Pasta in Tomato Broth and Chiles Con Queso (Chiles with Cheese), while seasoned cooks will appreciate challenging dishes such as Stuffed Chiles in Walnut Sauce and Turkey in Mole Poblana. Vivid prose chronicles the sojourns of Kennedy's curious palate, painting "word pictures" to describe "a Mexico of the past." Her efforts yield yet another classic, one that masterfully documents the rich diversity of Mexico's gastronomic heritage. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609603558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609603550
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is the best Mexican cook book on the market. If you seriously love Mexican cooking, this cook book is absolutely essential.
I first discovered Diana Kennedy from a friend who was also seriously addicted to good Mexican food in 1973. I immediately bought a copy of her first book, The Cuisines of Mexico, and authentic Mexican food began to appear in my kitchen. Mexican food is the only food I make, other than something that can go directly into the microwave. Believe me, if I can get good results with this cook book, you'll be a regular Julia Child by comparison.
In fact, Diana Kennedy is a lot like Julia Child in many ways. Ms. Kennedy is an American who came to live in Mexico after she married a New York Times foreign correspondent. There, she learned Mexican food from the local people. Her book is full of beautiful tales about how people prepare and enjoy each dish. For years, she has offered cooking instruction, so she knows the kinds of things that people need to learn. For example, the book contains general information about what kind of equipment you need, basic descriptions of the various ingredients (which can get pretty complicated with the various chilies), and how to handle various ingredients for advance preparation (something I always do), storage, and freezing (something that always happens because I make so much).
The reason I say that this is the book to have is because this book contains the essential material from her three earlier cook books (The Cuisines of Mexico, The Tortilla Book, and Mexican Regional Cooking) updated and improved.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`The Essential Cuisines of Mexico' is Diana Kennedy's Mexican answer to Julia Child's `Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. It has a similar style and quality and, like Child's encounter with French cooking, it came about as a result of her marriage to a husband who was posted to Mexico by his newspaper, `The New York Times' as their Caribbean / Mexican correspondent. This, plus a little help from New York Times colleague and friend, Craig Claiborne lead Ms. Kennedy to start teaching Mexican cooking and prompting her to write a book on the subject.

There are two big differences between this book and Ms. Child's `magnum opus'. The first is that this volume is an amalgam of three earlier books, while `...French Cooking' was a distillation from a manuscript at least twice the size of the final published volume. The second major difference is that while Ms. Child is documenting `cuisine bourgeois', Ms. Kennedy is looking at Mexico's `cuisine provincial'. This is highlighted by the fact that the geographical home of all recipes is cited, and the geographic specifics are given for all the major ingredients cited in the appendix.

The three earlier books being combined here are `The Cuisines of Mexico', `The Tortilla Book', and `Mexican Regional Cooking'. The author also states that some new material has been added to the recipes from these three books. To my eye, the integration of the three volumes is seamless. The author and her editors have not simply pasted the three volumes together, they have merged all the material to create a single work easily superior to the original three.

By the time this book was published, it should be evident to the English speaking world at large that Ms.
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By A Customer on February 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm the biggest Diana Kennedy fan ever. I wouldn't be without her earlier books except MY MEXICO, which is good but for me not essential. This is a compilation and some things are cut, some are added and some recipes refer to the earlier books that this one volume is supposed to replace. An example is tamales. Her earlier books have pages of instructions and theories in addition to stories. Here, we get the same story but then are referred to CUISINES OF MEXICO for detailed instructions for tamale masa. CUISINES has overly-pedantic recipes in the style of MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING so the update in style is welcome, but I wouldn't dream of not having the complete versions of the earlier books. Personally, I think her editor needs to be spanked.
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This is a wonderful cookbook with authentic Mexican recipes. Diana Kennedy has spent many years in Mexico and her knowledge of Mexican food reminds me of an anthropologist. Its very detailed and well documented. Most of the recipes are authentic and easy to recreate. Others (a few) are more difficult to recreate in an American kitchen but are wonderful to read in order to get an idea of the variety and richness of the food found in Mexico.

Some of the recipes are old and need to be updated (For example, ou can no longer find a bread called "Pambazo" in Mexico City--some of her terms are from the 50's)

I do notice that the anecdotes and introductions to the recipes show how much Diana Kennedy loves Mexican food but dislikes Mexican peasants, maids and servants. She gives credit to middle class and upper class Mexican cooks who give her recipes for this book but she in turn gives little credit or approval to recipes given to her by maids, peasants and Indian people. If she does give credit to a recipe given to her by a maid or a cook she only gives a first name or credits "the maids" that came with her rented house. Its a little offensive and gives you the impression that she loves the food but not the people who eat it.

This is a true shame because many of the best cooking is done by regular home cooks and poor people. This book would probably be better if she "lowered" herself to talk to Indian and peasant cooks and then treated them on equal footing as the wealthy and middle-class "Senoras" who give her most of her recipes.

If you can overlook the attitude toward the people its a worthwile book.
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