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Aug 9, 2006 12:14 AM

Monthly Cuisine: Need help/advice

I was pursuesing the new Minneapolis Downtown Public Library on Saturday and was struck with a great idea, that I probably nee some help with. Since there are SO many different types of food in the world from so many different countries that I DON'T know ANYthing about, I'm going to commit one or two months of my cooking to one country; learning the in's and out's, history of cooking etc.

I've picked Mexico as my first endevor, which I think will be fairly complecated since I dont' speak spanish well, and am not terribly familiar with local latino markets. But the point of this exercise is a challenge, and I'm up for it.

Does anyone have any cookbooks they recommend for Mexican Cooking. I really want authentic and borrowed Rick Bayless' "authentic Mexian" for a starting point. Our libraries cookbooks aren't TERRIBLY up to date, but I'm looking for numerous replies so that hopefully one of them will strike gold.

Also, and interesting Mexican cooking facts, recipes, stories, etc would be equally appreciated!



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  1. Diana Kennedy is an authority on Mexican cooking. The book I used was "The Art of Mexican Cooking" but she has written many others.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cheryl_h

      Diana Kennedy is the Julia Child of Mexican cooking. Her books are the reference points for Mexican cuisine.

      1. re: cheryl_h

        I second the rec for Diana Kennedy's "Art of Mexican Cooking" but, I'm not into fancy cuisine. With good fresh ingredients, my own simple Mexican recipes are more assemblage than fine cuisine. I guess I'm spoiled rotten. I'd learn to make tamales if I wasn't easily able to buy the best darn tamales I've ever tasted only 3 blocks away for $1.50 each. Ditto pupusas!

        1. re: niki rothman

          I will admit it was tempting to buy the amazing Tamales from the Mexican Grocer i went to yesterday, but instead I passed them up and grabbed the Masa per tamales and some corn husks and got down to the grind. There is something terribly rewarding about having made them myself, even if it is just once.

      2. I really like Rick Bayless and his PBS show is a great place to get familiar with Mexican Cuisine.

        A really good website about Mexican food and all things Mexican is mexconnect

        Although I don't cook, I really found this book useful when I was getting familiar with tamales.

        Also you can search Chowhound for many recipes.

        This sounds like a fun and interesting project. I do something similar, but not from a cooking standpoint. I'll decide to learn about a cuisine and then visit every bakery, restaurant, market that carries that cuisine. Last year it was Portuguese.

        This year seems to be Brazilian. In between there was Laotian, Filipino, Neapli, Tibetan and a few more.

        It has been very interesting, I've learned alot and met some really nice people I probably would not have otherwise met.

        I strongly encourage you to stop by Latino markets. Stop by and look closely. I've just started exploring the markets near my home. I was surprised to see that most make their own sausages, cheese, salsa tortillas and a host of other things.

        I love Mexican soups. I think they make some of the best in the world. One of my favorites is pozole.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          I agree w/ this. The other day I was in the Mexican market near our home and I saw a woman picking up some dried chilies I had never noticed before. I asked her what she used them for and we had a 20 minute conversation about the different chilies and their uses. There was a slight language barrier but we were near the butcher and he translated alot. Long story short, this weekend she's going to teach me to make mole at her home and have her english speaking daughter there to translate.

        2. Any book by the great Diana Kennedy is authentic and delicious.

          I have been doing a similar thing with Italian. I have read about 30 cookbooks and visited many markets, specialty stores and bakeries.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Fleur

            Thanks for everyone's recommendations.

            Fleur, if you want any Italian info, I have a plethora of resources and lived in Italy for over a year (including quite a bit of time spent in the kitchen).

          2. Kate! I love this idea. What a wonderful way to get to know what's available in the local markets, too. For Mexican ingredients, I've been fascinated with that little grocery across from Mercado Central. Keep us updated on your experiments. Maybe I'll shadow you and try some recipes. I'd like to more about these cuisines, too.


            4 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              My little mexican bird (I work with quite a few Mexican guys) told me to go to El Burrito Mercado, so that's where I'm going tomorrow. I think I might be doing two months or even three, instead of just one. There is so much to learn!

              1. re: CulinaryKate

                Don't forget to pick-up some of the gorgeous pastry from El Burrito's bakery while you're there. :)

                Yes, one month to learn an entire cuisine is pretty ambitious, even if you could entirely in that cuisine every day. Two or three months is probably more reasonable.


            2. Sometimes I really miss the Cities...

              Definitely start with Bayless. He is approachable, knowledgable, and has a wall of James Beard Awards to prove it. If you really want to be adventurous take a weekend trip to Chicago and check out his restaurant. It's easily worth the trip. While you're down there you can check out the big city mexican markets. Trust me, they're fantastic.