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Mexico One Plate at a Time

I was hoping to hear some chowhounds opinons on the show.
Best Regards

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  1. We enjoy this show a great deal. Bayless is a wonderful travel host as well as teacher of Mexican cooking. I've learnt a lot about the background to the cuisine, the history and culture of the country. Of course, it's all Bayless all the time which might annoy some viewers.

    1. Does anybody have the companion cookbook? I've thought about buying it, but I'm wondering if it's worth it or if it only has a couple of good recipes.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Mill City Modern

        It was November's cookbook of the month on the Home Cooking board. View all the discussion here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339027

        While I liked some of the recipes I tried in One Plate, I prefer his Mexican Kitchen. More interesting recipes w/ more detail and depth in the narrative. I like his PBS show alot and have been missing it now that my local station is no longer broadcasting it!

        1. re: Mill City Modern

          I have both Mexico: One Plate at a Time and Mexican Kitchen. The recipes are authentic and I've not had any disappointments. Well, there was the Pork in Tomatillo sauce I didn't like. Easy to follow with details on substituting hard to find ingredients.

          1. re: Mill City Modern

            The recipes in Mexico One Plate at a Time are well written and you'll get a pretty good results with them. However, it's not the best Rick Bayless book. Authentic Mexican, Mexican Kitchen and Salsas That Cook are all better.

            1. re: Mill City Modern

              The recipoies are for the basic and most common Mexican dishes, but its a very good cookbook. I have made at least a dozen of the dishes and have never had a bad meal.

              After some time with this one I moved to Mexican Kitchen which is much more detailed and has more interesting variations, but for your first foray into real Mexican cooking, One Plate at a Time is a great starting point.

            2. It's really a nice show and you learn a lot on a topic that is often misunderstood.

              1. I've liked this for some time now and it really sems to have stepped up a notch lately. The daughter is actually a good part of the show as opposed to the not missed Jacque Pepin & offspring series (and I'd watch him do anything).

                I tried the Pork/achiote/banana leaf recipe in my crockpot, it was very tasty. The pickled onions were the perfect foil.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Scrapironchef

                  Scrapironchef, how can I get that recipe for conchinita pibil? I recorded that episode on Tivo but it got erased. I want to try the fire pit method but it sounds like a real guessing game as far as temp/cooking time.

                2. I enjoy the show mainly for the glimpses of various dishes served in Mexico that I have yet to find north of the border! From street carts with Hambergasas de Camarones to the place with the large pit with a myriad of assorted meats!!!

                  1. Did anyone see the tropical fruit episode? What I wouldnt give to taste that Zapote negro! Has anyone sampled these?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      Yes and they are wonderful. You would love them. The flavor is really hard to describe. The ones I had (last month in Cuernavaca) were dead ripe and looked terribly on the outside. This is definitely one of those looks are deceiving fruits. The flesh is very soft, almost runny. It was combined with a little bit of orange juice, which didn't predominate in the overall flavor profile but contributed some sweetness and a little bit of acid. The flavor was kind of pruny/plummy but not as strong as those two. There are seeds that resemble large overgrown watermelon seeds. You just spit these out.

                      I didn't see the tropic fruit epsiode, did he also do guanabanas? I know he loves them, and I can see why. I love 'em too. They look kind of like a big misshapen cherimoya and d*mn are they good!!!

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        I dont think he feature guanabanas, but he did order it at the paleteria I think. You are so lucky...

                    2. I like this show a lot. I Tivo it and burn the episodes to DVD for my collection. Rick Bayless knows the heart and soul of regional cuisine. I've made many of his dishes and they come out spot on!

                      I cooked the Cochinita bibil this weekend and it came out great. My wife would have killed me if I dug a big whole in her garden, so I used a roasting pan and placed it in my smoker. I didn't add any aromatic wood, just lump charcoal. An eight lb. pork butt took about 6 hours to cook at 250-270 F. The results were fantastic with the pickled onions.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: bkhuna

                        I was actually thinking about buying the series. Do you think it is worth it? I really wished I catched the Lucha Libre Torta episode!

                        Although I am not big into desserts, the last episode about the fruits I found to be really engaging.

                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          you really missed out if you didn't see that torta episode. the sandwich makers packed about 3 lbs of assorted meats into some torta. It looked gross and insanely delicious all at the same time.

                          don't they play repeats of the series where you live? They do over here in boston, and I get them in HD...one episode a day. Its amazing how delicious mexican food looks on an hd tv <3

                          1. re: bitsubeats

                            I'll have to double check my listings bitsu. So far I have been recording the Yuc episodes. The daughter actually makes Bayless a little more tolerable.

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              He's not quite so over the top in person. I've made his pibil recipe with a couple of minor tweaks and Iike it alot. Plus it's incredibly easy to do.

                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                Yeah, I met him when he guest-chefed at Jodie Adam's Rialto in Cambridge, and he was a pretty reserved, nice guy who had no problem autgraphing my menu for me.

                                The food was excellent, too.

                            2. re: bitsubeats

                              That Torta stand was Sportortas. Which just opened up its first locations in L.A. and Texas. In Texas it's in Arlington address at the end of this article:


                              The one in L.A. I reported the opening right here...


                              haven't visited it yet, but the Sandwich Rick ordered was called "El Summo"


                            3. re: kare_raisu

                              I was looking at the 4 DVD set from the first four seasons and much to my dismay, it's only a few episodes from each season. I want ALL the show from the past. Oh well...

                              This whole season is being done in Yucatan. The first 5 episode were pretty good. I only hope PBS has reruns.

                          2. I'm a huge fan of Bayless, though I've never seen the show, and I have all of his cookbooks....including Cooking Adventures with Rick and Lanie. Mexican Kitchen is great, but I find that many of the recipes contain steps that are superfluous and unnecessary. Mexico ONe Plate at a TIme distills steps even further, and by the time you get to Mexican Everyday, the recipes are actually normal and quick.

                            1. Rick Bayless is a true ambassador to the food world for not only the cuisines, but the great cultures of Mexico. I've learned more about Mexico just watching his shows than I ever did in school. This Okie has come a long way...

                              I really enjoy One Plate at a Time, but the one recipe that knocks my socks off are for "real" margaritas. Once you've had one of these, the ones you get at the restaurants and bars are like silly children's drinks! Gracias, Senor Bayless... Salute!

                              1. I love his shows, knowledge and books but his overdramaitizing is kinda irratating

                                1. tokyorosa, may I ask which Mexican cookbooks (by a real Mexican) you would recommend? I'm trying to cook more ethnic food and I'm trying to be as authentic as possible. Mexican and Chinese are my current ventures.

                                  1. I'm with you! It's nice he has such affection for the cuisine and culture of Mexico, but it quickly rises to the level of irritating affectation. His grating attempts to speak Spanish don't help (but give him credit, it's still better then the current POTUS who claims "fluency"). His cookbooks are thorough, to be sure, but it does seem more geared to güeros whose think tacos are the height of culinary exotica.

                                    But worst of all: As I noted on another thread, the most public product of his affection-- his restaurants' "Mexican" food-- is curiously lackluster. I went to Frontera Grill not long ago for dinner, and everything from the drinks to the actual food offerings was unmemorable. It looked like Mexican food, the ingredients seemed to be there, but nothing registered as having any life, sazón, chispa auténtica mexicana (oh, and everything was dried-out and tough, down to the beans). I think I said it seemed like Mexican food prepared by Pod People. Definitely won't be going back there to dent my wallet for flavorless food....

                                    Oh, and something else that serves as a great rule of thumb for determining if a Mexican restaurant is any good: If they spend a great deal of menu space listing their margarita choices, RUN. The more focus on the margaritas, the less chance the food is any good.

                                    1. I don't mind his show.I find it entertaining and i have heard of some mexican food items I didn't know about that he mentions depending in what area of Mexico he is in.As a white person,I wouldn't mind if they had a show about mexican foods with a mexican chef.
                                      Maybe because i have lived most of my life in the San Antonio area.Except when my dad was stationed in Okinawa,Alaska and Maryland.I'm surprised they haven't had any on PBS or Food Network yet.
                                      Isn't Rick's Frontera Grill in Chicago? Only thing we ever did in Chicago was drive through it on the way to Milwaukee to see my dad's relatives.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: HollyDolly

                                        Frontera & Topolobampo are Rick's restaurants in Chicago, which get high praise from 99% of the people who have eaten there.

                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                          I now recall that the last time I had Bayless' cuisine it was at Topolobampo, not Frontera Grill (both in Chicago, of course). I'd actually dined at Frontera Grill years ago and enjoyed it-- mostly for the margaritas (I should have known...!), although the food was good enough. And I'd heard the praise shouted from the rooftops, and I really, REALLY wanted to like Topolobampo-- especially considering the prices. But despite the happy crowds in the bar, despite the cheery décor, despite Bayless' obvious love of Mexico and its wonderful indigenous cuisines-- the food was insipid. Not inedible (although overcooked), but completely forgettable. And that's a shame.

                                          Bayless' show is fine. The more exposure Mexican culture gets (an incredibly rich culture), the better.

                                          1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                                            Topolabampo is on my short list of places to go to when I am downtown next, as I mentioned I enjoyed Frontera, and look forward to a return visit there as well. I dont drink margaritas, I prefer to sip tequila straight, and I was impressed by the selection of tequila they had on hand and the tequila tasting flights.

                                            What spots do you go to in Chicago that you enjoy? I am always l;ooking for new spots.

                                            1. re: swsidejim

                                              Oh, I live in California. I rarely travel to Chicago any more (a pity, I LOVE Chicago!!), and when I do I usually stick to the places around the Magnificent Mile. I've loved going to Lou Malnati's and Ann Sather's and Rosebud (on Rush, isn't it?)-- yeah, local chains, but good grub and eminently chowworthy IMHO. Oh, and Bistro 110 on Pearson is always solid. You see how unadventurous I get on business travel...!

                                              1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                                                I see, funny thing I used to work at one of the Rosebud locations as a line cook about 10 years ago..

                                                I am a Chicago suburbanite, who moved even further from the city(70 miles sw of Chicago) to escape the urban sprawl, and traffic. I still work near Chicago, and go downtown a couple of times a month just to eat. I hope you make it back to Chicago soon,I agree, it is a great city for food.

                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                  From your mouth to my boss' ear...! I'd be glad to have a couple of days there just to hit the Art Institute! And then I'll be posting on the Chicago board to get some dining recos.

                                                  1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                                                    hopefully its sooner rather than later that you can make a return trip.

                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                      I've lived in quite a few cities in my life and am now in the heart of Chicago - a few blocks from the Sears tower. I just love living here. Its such a livable city with SO many great restaurants. Tons of good advice on the Chicago board for those interested.

                                                      Regarding Bayless, gormet Mexican cuisine has become so common these days that its easy to forget that he opened Frontera more than 20 years ago when no one in Chicago, and most other places in the US, even had heard of a mole, or tried a REAL chile relleno. In fact, I would say that outside of a few arrea in SoCal, Phoenix, etc, few people still have. And he came from CLEVELAND of all places.\

                                                      So yeah, he can be a little irritating on TV, but its all genuine. Frontera might not be the best mexican place in town anymore, but you can still get a great meal there, and Topolobampo might be the best around. For that matter, most of the competition comes from Alumni of Frontera. I had an outstanding meal there a couple weeks ago, and I can get very picky about food, service, etc. I'll also say that from a restaurant perspective, he has kept his aspirations in check. A few food court type place around, but basically he just runs those two in Chicago (plus the books, shows, etc.) Very unlike others who have spread themselves far too thin. W. Puck for instance. I tried a few of his outposts in Las Vegas and they were really second rate. And have you seen that nasty Puck soup in a can? So in the big scheme of things, Rick is alright in my book. Plus, I've cooked soem great meals out of his cookbooks.

                                                      1. re: wak

                                                        BTW, he's from Oklahoma, not Cleveland like I posted above.

                                      2. I'm a native Angeleno who was lucky enough to grow up with just about every color, race and religion known to reside in LA back in the 60s and 70s. I feel a strong affinity with Mr. Bayless as he seems to have a deep reverence for other cultures as well - in this case the Mexican culture through the wonderful cuisine. And it is food that does tell so much about our respective cultures. And it is food that breaks the ice in so many situations. They guy is originally from Oklahoma - that ain't LA by any stretch of the imagination, especially when you consider what generation he was growing up with. Give him some credit for not so much wanting to be Mexican, but for showing a deep interest and respect for its culture. Afterall, isn't that what we all wish others would have for our own cultures? I would love it if a Chicano had a show on Japanese cuisine, a Russian was giving tips on how to make a great bouillabaisse, or an African-American was telling the culinary history of China. If the person is worthy of it, has a deep respect and knowledge for it, and does it well, then I can get behind it. I don't think you give middle-class whites enough credit about not wanting the people. I know far too many of these whites that you decry who have met many of these people you refer to by circumstance, and have then developed these relationships into long-term friendships.

                                        As long as people perceive people like Mr. Bayless to be insincere and unfit because he is white, then I guess the problems can be seen in the mirror.

                                        1. Wow, I suppose people are entitled to opinions but thats just harsh and, to me, seems entirely out of touch with reality. Someone can't make food because they're a different color than the people who the food is predominantly associated with? That's quite a brush to paint people with and you got "middle-class white folks" whoever they are right along with it.

                                          I've always thought that Bayles showed a lot of respect and, indeed, reverence for Mexican food, culture and people. He seems to strive to present some of the history of authentic mexican ingredients and foods and to root them a bit in the surrounding culture.

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                            "these people"? Did you refer to Mexicans as "these people"? Because that's what I'm talking about right there.

                                            It's not about color, it's about culture.

                                            I never said Bayless didn't have a deep respect for the culture. But having a deep respect for the culture or even a great deal of experience interacting with people of that culture is not the same as having the culture itself. And if all you have is a deep appreciation for another culture yet you're trying to pass yourself off as an expert by making the food of that culture and selling it to others, you're doing nothing more than co-opting that culture for your own gain. This happens so often that most people are blind to it or try to defend it as being part of multiculturalism. In fact, it's yet another form of colonization.

                                            My opinion? Bayless makes soul-less, Mexican-ish food for culture-less folks.

                                            Your actual perception may vary.

                                            1. re: tokyorosa

                                              Have you ever been to one of his restaurants? I'm curious what you ate there because I find the food quite good. Also, have you read through his cookbooks and prepared any meals out of them? I have found that they contain a lot of detail on Mexican cuisine that I have not been able to find elsewhere, and I really do not consider myself "cultureless." In fact, I have gained a lot of interesting insight into the food of Mexico that gave me a higher appreciation of that part of the Mexican culture.

                                              Do you also consider Julia Childs to have co-opted the French culture for her own gain by passing herself off as an expert? Is this also American cultural colonization? I thought she was just trying to share her love of a foreign cuisine with people in America? Is this any different from what Bayless is doing?

                                              1. re: tokyorosa

                                                No, in fact, I didn't refer to anyone as "these people."

                                                You made it about color with "middle class white folks" and the comment that a white guy can't make soul food.

                                                And you've reiterated your idea that only someone from one specific culture can make food at all representative of the culture, which I find closed minded. Deep respect, long study, careful practice and refinement and a clear joy from the way other people have and do live are wonderful things to find in a person trying to celebrate food and culture other than the one they perhaps grew up with. If Bayless' food is souless, that's a shame, but his intent doesn't seem to be, especially on the show.

                                              2. re: ccbweb

                                                well put cc,

                                                rosa thinks that only a person of mexican heritage is "allowed" to cook dishes from that region, and that pretty sad outlook in my opinion.

                                                She seems to forget cooking is about sharing, and since the folks Rick Bayless learns from, share their recipies, techniques, history, and ingredients with him, it makes sense he wants to share this food he seems to have a passion for with others. If he makes a living off of it, more power to him.

                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                  It's *tokyo*rosa, actually. Because, I, you know, have adopted the Japanese way of doing things.

                                                  As a Mexican who has lived in the far east and who cooks mean Japanese and Thai food, I have to say: Wow. Did you even read my post?

                                                  Because the point was that people who are not from a particular culture but who try to pass themselves off as *experts* of some aspect of that culture are co-opting that culture, not respecting it. The co-opting of a culture takes many forms, from wannabe-Mexican cooks on TV to non-Indian artists who produce Indian-ish art to turn a profit. Anyway, that's all probably beyond your comprehension at this point. But I will say that:

                                                  A) I understand this to the extent that while I may cook a mean okonomiyaki, I'm a Mexican who is actually proud of her heritage and so I am not trying to pass myself off as a wannabe-Japanese expert in Japanese cooking; and B) I'm not here to raise your consciousness about cultural heritage and the continuing means of colonization; because C) I have the good sense to realize that that would be a losing battle.

                                                  Enjoy your Mexican-ish food cooked by your *expert* in Mexican cooking Senor Bayless!

                                                  1. re: tokyorosa

                                                    Do you have a recommendation for a Mexican cookbook by a Mexican author? I'm trying to learn how to cook different foods as authentically as I possibly can in my home. Just looking for someone to steer me in the right direction.
                                                    I asked this before, but you may have missed it between all the other posts.

                                                    1. re: QueenB

                                                      Sorry, Queen B! I did miss your earlier post!

                                                      Thinking about your question made me realize that the cooks I know never cooked from cookbooks, they just learned it at their mother's and father's knee(s). So I can't immediately think of, say, the Mexican equivalent of Madhur Jaffrey.

                                                      I'll ask my friends (maybe even my *Mexican* friends ;-) to see if they have any rec's. (God help me if they recommend Rick Bayless!)

                                                      1. re: tokyorosa

                                                        Yeah, thanks, I would appreciate that. Especially since, I don't have Mexican parents to learn from. We're white, middle-class folks who just have an appreciation (and hunger) for other cultures foods.
                                                        I do have Bayless's book, but when I cook from a culture, I like to cook from three or four different books to see how they compare.
                                                        I'd appreciate any recommendations you (or anyone else on this board!) can come up with.

                                                        1. re: QueenB

                                                          If you only have Mexico One Plate at a Time, get Rick Baylesses Mexican Kitchen - more regional variations and detailed information in that one. Or try Diana Kennedy's Art of Mexican Cooking. That said, I'd also love to hear of more books on Mexican cuisine, especially regional cuisines that are not as well documented.

                                                          Sorry TokyoRosa, but these are excellent, detailed cookbooks with authentic recipies. The fact that they are written by non-mexicans is no indication of their quality.

                                                          Likewise, David Thompson writes with expertise on Thai Cuisine, Paula Wolfert on Medeterranien cuisine, etc.etc. BTW, D. Kennedy is British, but has lived in Mexico for more than 45 years. Does that make her more or less "authentic" than a Mexican national who has lived his/her whole life in LA?

                                                          In the same vein, the American William Manchester wrote an outstanding biography of Winston Churchill, the caucasian Taylor Branch wrote one of the definitive histories of the civil rights movement, the British historian Gordon Craig an authoritative history of Germany, the Dutch Karl Van Wolferen one of the most highly regarded critiques of Japan. The list goes on and on.

                                                          Just because you come from one country/culture/ethnic group does not mean that you can have no authority to write about others.

                                                          1. re: wak

                                                            Just as an example (and again, not trying to raise anyone's consciousness): Doesn't it stand to reason that possibly, say, a Mexican trying to get a book deal from a publishing company run by white people is going to be at a slight disadvantage versus a white guy trying to get a book deal about Mexican cooking? Yes, we all know that *you're* blind to all forms of racism, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone else is as enlightened as you are.

                                                            Anyway, if those books have validity for you, well, that's all that matters, right?

                                                            1. re: wak

                                                              I'll look at the Diana Kennedy book. Thanks wak!
                                                              I'm always seeking out knowledge in regards to cooking, especially ethnic cooking.
                                                              And please continue with any recommendations!

                                                2. I really enjoy this show, and watch it every time I see it on. I think he does a great job of educating, and exposing people to dishes, ingredients, & cooking techniques that some may not know about.

                                                  His show got me to take a day trip into Chicago for lunch @ Frontera, and had a great meal, and was really impressed by the tequila selection, and tasing flights they offered. A bonus he was in the restaurant when I was dining that day.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                                    I didn't expect all the drama. I love the fact that the show comes on PBS in rural Central Texas where Tex-Mex reigns. Away from Dallas where all the little hole-in-the-wall places abound and good food is nearby in a variety of prices, I found myself yearning for comfort food after living here for a year.

                                                    My husband is from Guanajuato Mexico and I am Mexican American and my dad's family is from Mexico City and Tlaxcala and this show brought back memories for us. Yes we as Latinos, Hispanics, whatever, name sometimes doesn't matter, have bought his books. They get down to way its supposed to be prepared with a molcajete and other time consuming preparations. I haven't watched the whole series but have watched snippets and portions.

                                                    I don't have a mama or an abuela to teach me since they aren't here. My mother in law only knows certain things and i miss the tlacoyos and pipian and these books are a way to prepare food myself. There is no mercado or Mexican grocery store nearby - sad - where I can go to buy ingredients. Granted Mr. Bayless may have his faults but has opened the doors for many people to prepare food close to its origins and know more than Tex-Mex or Taco Bell.

                                                    And to sound pathetic to some people and this may not be PC but's its a quote from my husband- "it's sad that a white guy had to teach us to cook our food".

                                                    Overall I enjoy the show and the food is enjoyable. Haven't been to the restaruants though.

                                                    1. re: nakira

                                                      I enjoyed your informative post ont this topic. I agree whatever method it takes to expose people to different cultures, and their foods cant be bad.

                                                      1. re: nakira

                                                        Nakira, I agree with you. Bayless and Kennedy have opened a bit of Mexican culture to the masses and I can't find fault with that. I've read both of Bayless' books and am working my way through Diana Kennedy's book. What I appreciate about both is that they are trying to document cooking from a culture that typcially doesn't document their recipes. They are handed down through families without detailed explanation, using whatever ingredients they can get. Each region of Mexico will treat their ingredients differently, which both authors point out and sometimes expand greatly in their writing.

                                                        It is my belief that some people become deeply involved and respectful of a culture and want nothing more to share their experience. That is how I view both authors. People who truly love this other culture and want others to enjoy it instead of being afraid of it.

                                                        I've traveled to Mexico quite a bit and have many friends from Mexico. They love the food I make no matter where I got the recipe. They are amazed that a tall blonde woman can make a decent mole from scratch and proudly proclaim this to their friends.