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Jul 29, 2010 07:31 AM

Diana Kennedy--has she ever written a memoir?

I know Kennedy's written oodles of cookbooks, and has a new one coming out this fall on Oaxacan cuisine, but has she ever written a memoir? If so, what is it called?

She just seems like an interesting person, and I thought her life story might make a good read, that's all.


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  1. From what I understand she is fiercely private, won't even give interviews unless it's to talk about Mexican food or promote her books.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Ah, okay, that's explains it. Thank you!


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Her book "Nothing Fancy" (which I love) has some reminiscences in it - get it NOW!!!

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            PS mainly not Mexican, more English stuff.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Some Mexican. Get. It. You won't regret it! It sustained me through a bout of pneumonia back when it came out.

      2. re: JoanN

        Diana has thought about a Bio and I will continue to hound my friend to do one.
        She is one of the finnest persons I know.
        El Mateo

      3. The Splendid Table paid a visit to her a while back. You might find clips on their archive.

        1. No, there is not a memoir, but I can tell you if there were it would probably be entertaining.

          I had the great fortune to cook with her a couple of summers ago (via Marilyn Tausend's Culinary Adventures). Diana *loves* an audience and tells great - tho' carefully orchestrated - stories. She has led a full and interesting life.

          She will be doing a book tour to support the release of her new book this Fall. IIRC, there are 7 or 8 cities on the tour. The list of cities is on the page for her book on the U of TX Press web site. If she's coming to a city near you, I can really recommend going to hear her speak.

          5 Replies
          1. re: DiningDiva

            :) Yes, she will be in St. Paul. MN. I am so glad to hear she's very entertaining!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              The very first cooking class I ever took with DK was in 1993 at Let's Get Cooking in Westlake Village, CA. She's small and petite and speaks with this very proper English accent. The first words out of her mouth were "cooking Mexican food is a laborrrious process" and she really strung out the work laborious for emphasis. Between the accent and the word emphasis, she left no doubt who was in charge :-) Then she proceeded to command the stove and kitchen like nobody's business. To this day, I still make one of the recipes she taught that day with only a few slight modifications. She is also highly idosyncratic, a little scattered but always in command, and you hear what she wants you to hear from her perspective, not what reality might really be.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                That is so neat. Was it a participation class or a demo only? What, if I might ask, is the recipes you still make?


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  The 1993 class was mostly demo. The time I spent with her a couple summers ago were at her home in Zitacuaro, MX and that time everything was hands on for 3 full days. The first thing she had us do was render lard. We must have ended up with 2 or 3 quarts of the stuff. By the end of the 3 days of cooking there was no lard left, but we had made close to 40 or 45 dishes. So it wasn't like each dish used massive quantities of it. And, I have to say, that experience really completed my conversion to making a point of using lard for all the Mexican cooking I do, which is quite a bit. A little goes a long way and the flavor difference is pronounced.

                  She is very non-linear in the way she teaches and doesn't necessarily start every dish at the beginning which really bothered some people. There are a lot of dishes (moles and pipanes for example) that have lots of components to them and the components don't necessarily have to be done in any particular order, so she'd start some people toasting chiles, some chopping, and still others, blending or cooking. The best thing was to just let go of any preconceived ideas about how the recipe was "supposed" to come together and just trust that it would. And with only a couple of exceptions, they all did.

                  The dish I still make from that 1993 class is from the sopa seca category and was a simple Sopa de Fideos. I'm pretty sure the recipe is in her Tortilla Book. Super simple: brown coils of fideos until deep golden, drain. Blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt and fry in same pan and oil that fideos were. When hot and somewhat reduced add the cooked fideos back in along with some chicken stock, cover and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer mixture to a baking dish, cut chiles chipotles en adobo into strips and tuck into the fideos, drizzle with crema, cover and bake about 15-20 min. Garnish with more crema, onion rings, crumbled cotija. It's great by itself, or with a green salad. Also pairs well with chicken, pork, shrimp and eggs (especially fried or poached). It's a good potluck dish and is a nice change of pace from rice and potatoes. Can be served hot or cold, I prefer hot. I usually have to add more liquid for the baking stage and sometimes I just add the chipotles to the tomatos when I blend them. It's not really a quick to fix dish, but it is easy and really tasty.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    Wow, what a wonderful experience. And that dish sounds fantastic. I've just made a note to try it. Thank you so much for sharing!

                    I am really envious and now, I too want to go to Mexico for 3 day to learn from her.


            1. re: elliora

              She's 87? Wow! That's a lovely article! Thank you for sharing.