Last updateFri, 27 Nov 2020 10am

Classic lockdown reads

The amazing flavors of Mexico

Nonagenarian Diana Kennedy’s love affair with Mexican cuisine began more than six decades ago, and her “My Mexico” cookbook tells of encounters with the most Mexican of kitchen staples to the most exotic elements to be found.

Hundreds of Mexican culinary revelations are hidden within Kennedy’s extensive descriptions of regional gastronomical recipes and customs.

British-born Kennedy first came to Mexico in 1957 to marry the foreign correspondent of The New York Times. After becoming enamored of  Mexican food, she began traveling the length and breadth of the countryside learning the culinary histories of families and being privy to exotic concoctions handed down through generations. Kennedy is now widely known as a tried-and-true expert in anything related to Mexican cuisine.

More than 300 recipes await between the bright covers of Kennedy’s book. Aside from the unique, sometimes parochial cooking techniques, a reader can relish Kennedy’s interspersed stories. For every one of the five regions she covers, Kennedy begins with a descriptive and detailed view into the area’s flora, fauna and weather, often illustrating its people or customs using a family or single woman as a focus.

There’s Sra. Catalina of western Mexico with her tamales de espiga, Srita. Abigail Mendoza’s arroz con camaron seco served in Oaxaca, and Carlos Franco’s Tabascan Ixgua, a savory corn cake. The stories behind the dishes are often as lovely as the rumblings the recipes can generate in the tummy.

One of the most valued aspects of the prose is Kennedy’s attention to detail. Even the illustrations on the cover and throughout the book are taken from bark paper cutouts of Puebla that are used to invoke spirits of fruits and vegetables which ensure a good harvest.

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