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Jan 1, 2011 05:43 PM

Best Diana Kennedy cookbook?

Hey Hounds!

I am looking to add a Diana Kennedy cookbook to our home collection and would like recommendations of the best one to start with, if you had to choose just one. Her new Oaxaca book looks stellar but the reviews I've seen make it look more like a coffee table book than one to actually cook out of. I'm leaning towards "My Mexico" but would love input.

We are skilled home cooks who are comfortable working with recipes from other cultures and sourcing unusual ingredients, and we are also busy people with professional lives and a 2 year old at home, so we are up for challenging recipes but not for excessively elaborate projects - just simple delicious dinners at home. To give a sense, we cook a lot out of Deborah Madison's books, and Joy of Cooking, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, etc. Susan Hermann Loomis's Cooking at home on Rue Tatin has been a favorite lately. Keller's French Laundry book, however, just sits on the shelf, though we do cook from his Bouchon book and love it's simpler, homier recipes. We had a Charlier Trotter book for a while and while I got some great ideas (like olive oil poached swordfish with roasted eggplant) I can't say I ever actually cooked out of it. So that should give you some idea of what we are looking for from Diana.

We've both lived in California and New Mexico and my wife has traveled to some extent in Mexico, so we know a lot of the flavors and want to create some of them at home.

So - where should we start?


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  1. The Essential Cuisines of Mexico combines The Cuisines of Mexico, The Tortilla Book, and Mexican Regional Cooking. Plus it's it's only 20 bucks. Haven't cooked too terrible much out of it yet, but what we have tried has been very good---although a few recipes have needed a bit of tweaking to make the finished dishes turn out as described.

    3 Replies
    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

      Yeah, I thought of that one too, but it seemed like a re-hash of three older books, where as My Mexico seemed like one newer and more thorough book. The main complaint I have seen about My Mexico is that there aren't a lot of photos but that's not a concern for me. Have you ever had a chance to compare the two?

      1. re: eight_inch_pestle

        This is probably way to late, but just in case anyone browses through, start with either Essential Cuisines or Art of Mexican. Either of these books will cover the basics of Mexican cuisine (Essentials a bit moreso) and provide interesting regional variations and oddities. My Mexico is a lovely book, but like much of DK's later output, it is as much travel writing as it is a cookbook, and it's filled with fascinating, but often odd-ball recipes. If I had to suggest an order for the Kennedy ouevre, I'd actually go:

        1. Essential Cuisines
        2. Art
        3. My Mexico
        4. Mexican Kitchen (which is almost like an index to her earlier works)
        5. Oaxaca al Gusta (a focused, regional book)

        Hope this helps someone. :-)

      2. I had the same question and I ended up buying _The Tortilla Book_, _Mexican Regional Cooking_, and _The Cuisines of Mexico_ (you can find each of them used for a very reasonable price). _The Cuisines of Mexico_ is by far and away the best of the three. It is full of information about cooking techniques and ingredients. I highly recommend it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: karinamadison

          Aren't these three books combined into Essential Cuisine of Mexico?