Cookbook review: The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Some writers have called Diana Kennedy the Julia Child of Mexican cooking. Both were enthusiastic amateur cooks who became the spokesperson for an entire cuisine - Child for American cuisine and Kennedy for Mexican. This has also made us ponder the role of Rick Bayless. Perhaps he is the David Thompson of Mexican cuisine? Both have bought a professional chefs eye to a country and codified the recipes in a clinical yet approachable way - Bayless for Mexico and Thompson for Thailand. We say this because we think that there is a place for both this book by Kennedy and Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Bayless on every food lover's shelves.
Let us start this review by expressing a small disappointment with this release which combines three of her previous books including our well-worn The Cuisines of Mexico along with The Tortilla Book and Mexican Regional Cooking. We were surprised that while each of the individual recipes clearly identify with a region, there is little attempt to discuss regional differences and the reader is left to look up any regional references in an atlas as no map is provided.
However, setting that aside we think this is an important book that should be included in every food lover's cooking library.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
Masa fantasies
Tortillas and tortilla dishes
Soup stews
Beans, rice, and pasta
Egg dishes
Light meals
Sauces and relishes
Assorted meats
Sweet yeast breads
Desserts and cookies
General information.
As you can see from the above list the recipes are organised into either ingredients or courses rather than by region as we stated above.
The books range widely across Mexican food and reading them will give you a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the cuisines of Mexico.
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