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May 2, 2010 11:55 AM

New Diana Kennedy Oaxaca Cookbook

A couple of years ago a new cookbook by Diana Kennedy on Oaxaca was published in Mexico. I've got it in Spanish and it is quite a tome. The original publication was only about 3,000 copies and financed - I was told - by an industrialist in Monterrey, MX.

University of Texas Press will be publishing the English translation in Sept. 2010. Here's a link for more information -

It is available for pre-order and there does appear to be a pretty hefty discount for doing that.

It's a hard cookbook from which to cook in the U.S,. (and perhaps even in Mexico, too) because of the specialty nature of some of the ingredients. But as a recorded history, so to speak, of the cooking and culinary traditions of the different regions of Oaxaca, it is probably a reasonably good reference. Don't be put off or deterred by the "coffee table cookbook" appearance to this book, it's a pretty serious work.

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  1. DD,

    Thanks for the heads up. But $50 retail!? And I wonder why a university press is publishing it rather than her "usual" publishers. I'd guess (as you suggest) that because her last few cookbooks—other than reprints and recompilations—have been rather inaccessible for a home cook (dishes with long complicated directions and ingredient lists which take hours if not days to prepare). I also wonder why Oaxaca rather than Michoacán, but I think I can guess the reasons.

    Have you cooked from the book? If yes, any comments on the dishes?

    3 Replies
    1. re: dlglidden

      The book, in Spanish, costs 800 pesos if you buy it retail in Mexico. That's over $60USD at today's exchange rate. I bought it two years ago. It's worth it.

      As DD says, it's a difficult book to cook with, but it's a treasure of information. It's also extremely beautiful. Most of the photography is by Diana Kennedy herself.

      Don't let the price deter you; with the pre-order discount, it's less than $35.00.


      1. re: dlglidden

        DG, I paid $50 USD in Mexico 2 years ago when it came out. As Cristina says it's a beautiful book and extremely well done. Many of the photos DK took herself and are really quite good. This was a very personal book for her.

        DK lives in Michoacan but she's long been a big proponent of Oaxaca and it's indigenous/traditional foodways. Kind of like living in San Diego for the quality of life, but really loving and appreciating the foodways and culture of the Bay Area. The book is the culmination of her 20+ years of work and research in Oaxaca. I would suspect this might be why the UT Press is publishing it rather than a regular publishing house. It really falls more into the anthropology/ethnographic category than it does the cookbook category. I think it's more of a scholarly work than anything.

        The first class I ever took with DK was back in 1992 or 93 at a cooking school called Let's Get Cooking in Westlake Village, CA. The first words out of her mouth were "Mexican food is laborious"...and so it is. I just did a week long cooking class for industry professionals at the new CIA in San Antonio taught by Iliana de la Vega, and she too, stressed that cooking Mexican food properly is a laborious process. She even used the same word - laborious. I don't find DK particularly "inaccessible" but I do understand where you're coming from. The reality is that many of the ingredients DK calls for in her recipes are already on a kitchen shelf, or in the fridge. You do have to read her recipe instructions pretty carefully, she tends to make things a little more complicated than necessary in the name of "tradition". Many of the recipes in the new Oaxaca book do not have a luandry list of ingredients, nor are they particularly hard to execute, its finding the proper ingredients that's the stumbling block.

        I would not recommend this book for the casual Mexican cuisine cook. I would, however, strongly recommend it for anyone who has mastered (and understands) the basic techniques of Mexican cooking and/or has more than a passing interest in the food and foodways of Oaxaca. It's a great resource.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          I love her cookbooks for the personal anecdotes, as well as the lovingly detailed recipes. Her writing is art, aside and apart from telling you how to prepare Mexican cuisine in the traditional "laborious" style. Every word she puts on the page is from the heart - hers and from the other numerous women who have practiced and passed on the traditional values and techniques.

      2. I attended a book signing by Diana Kennedy in Puerto Vallarta earlier this year, and was able to peruse this book, at the time only published in Spanish. The price in Mexico is 1,500 pesos, about $120. I would be thrilled to get an English edition for $50. For anyone familiar with Diana Kennedy's books, it is more than recipes -- history, lore, personal stories, accounts of tracking down a recipe. It is a gorgeous book and well worth the price.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Kathleen is Cooking in Mexico

          Follow the link I originally posted above to the UT Press site. Their pre-order deal is $33.50, which is a steal for this book. Surely you must have someone - friends, relatives, clients - that would be willing to be a mule and bring the book down to you in MX

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Thanks for the link. The price is right and the book is incredible. I can find someone to bring it to me. I can't wait to get it. I'm also ordering her book, From My Mexican Kitchen, Techniques and Ingredients, a must-have for any serious cook of Mexican cuisine.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              Just ordered it. And posted link on Twitter. Gracias.

          2. "Never let me hear you say a cookbook is expensive...a novel you read once, a cookbook is on your shelf for 30 years." Quote from DK at a talk last week in Austin. Read the rest here, short and easy


            2 Replies
            1. re: DiningDiva


              OK. I give up. I own every one of DK's published cookbooks and cook from them constantly and frequently. So I might as well keep my collection complete and up to date; I'll order the cookbook from UT press at the pre-publication price. But it has been true for some time that I still cook mostly recipes from her first few cookbooks (especially The Cuisines of México). And I'm hardly afraid of long instructions, sometimes obscure ingredients, and lots of time-consuming work. (I make my own tamalesand chorizo from scratch, for example.) But it does seem to me that a great many of the "later recipes," though interesting and tasty, just aren't really worth the time and trouble to prepare.

              And DK is just wrong. It is true that cookbooks are good for 30+ years, but novels and books of poetry and history and art books, etc. are also good for a lifetime. My wife and I have the shelf space to save and display the 2-3 thousand books we've acquired over the years and we reread "old friends' constantly. And when I'm on my deathbed I'm a hellofalot more likely to ask for someone to read me one of my favorite poems than I am to ask for the reading of a recipe.

              1. re: dlglidden

                :-D, loved your last line...probably very true.

                I, too, own every DK book published (except the one she wrote on English cooking) and cook from them frequently. Like you, I find myself cooking mainly from Cuisines and Art of (try her Green Chorizo in Art of Mexican Cooking, it''s very tasty). Her recipes work more often than not. I also own every Rick Bayless cookbook and have cooked from them. His recipes work too, but I find myself returning time and again to DK. It's probably just a personal preference, I perfer the flavor profiles I get from the DK books to those from the RB books. Neither is more right or wrong than the other, my taste buds just like what I produce from a DK recipe better.

                We remodeled last summer. I purged my books, donated about 800 of them to various organizations. I did not purge a single one of my collection of Mexican cookbooks even though I pared down the rest of the cookbook collection quite a bit. In the end I think it was about even between cookbooks and other books leaving the house.

            2. DD,
              Thanks for the tip about "Oaxaca al Gusto". The Spanish-language edition is a fine book, both in content and as an example of bookmakers' art. Today's price at Gandhi is 1,260.00 pesos, the equivalent of 100.80 U.S. dollars. The U.T. Press price of $33.50 or the Amazon price of $31.50 w/free Super Saving Shipping are too good to pass up.

              1. Oaxaca al Gusto was named "Cookbook of the Year" this evening during the James Beard awards

                1 Reply
                1. re: DiningDiva

                  DD, It's a great coffee table book and I'm glad it won Cookbook of the Year, but, alas, I've not yet felt a need/worked up my courage to attempt one of the recipes.

                  Derald Glidden