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La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    La Cocina Mexicana
    Book Description:

    After thirty years of leading culinary tours throughout Mexico, Marilyn Tausend teams up with Mexican chef and regional cooking authority Ricardo Muñoz Zurita to describe how the cultures of many profoundly different peoples combined to produce the unmistakable flavors of Mexican food. Weaving engrossing personal narrative with a broad selection of recipes, the authors show how the culinary heritage of indigenous groups, Europeans, and Africans coalesced into one of the world's most celebrated cuisines.Cooks from a variety of cultures share recipes and stories that provide a glimpse into the preparation of both daily and festive foods. In a Maya village in Yucatán,cochinita de pibilis made with the native peccary instead of pig. In Mexico City, a savorychile poblanois wrapped in puff-pastry. On Oaxaca's coast, families of African heritage share their way of cooking the local seafood. The book includes a range of recipes, from the delectably familiar to the intriguingly unusual.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95416-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    It was a Christmas week in the mid-1980s, and on an unusually clear day, the air crisp and clean, my husband, Fredric, and I left the vast urban sprawl of Mexico City, driving first alongside the magnificent old and new structures at its center and then past the tentaclelike rows of wood-and-tin shacks that climb the surrounding hillsides. We were on our way to spend Christmas with friends in Morelia, Michoacán, one of central Mexico’s most beautiful colonial cities. Fredric, a trial attorney, had frequently been there in the past while representing Michoacán in a trial, and I had become...

  5. The Basics of Mexican Cooking
    (pp. 15-26)

    The ways in which ingredients are prepared and combined to create the robust tastes and textures characteristic of Mexican cuisine have changed little over the centuries. Yes, in many homes, blenders do the work that was once done by hand in amolcajetecarved out of volcanic rock, and pressure cookers sometimes replace the large clay pots in which the household’s daily beans were simmered for hours. Stoves, some with ovens, are used by most cooks, yet cooking over coals is still the preferred method to prepare certain dishes, such aspescado tikin xik(page 174). And for many indigenous...

    (pp. 27-46)

    Recipes can be assembled in many different ways for a cookbook. I chose to begin with the indispensable salsas, as bowls of different salsas are the first thing you find on every table when you sit down to eat. They may be red with tomatoes or green and tangy with tomatillos, and there is usually a variety from which to choose. The salsas may be made with only raw ingredients, simmered, or sometimes just quickly fried. All but a few will include chiles, fresh or dried. Intense flavor is essential to a salsa, and the ability of the chile to...

    (pp. 47-74)

    In Mexico whenever friends gather for a drink, enticing small bites, orbotanas, will be on the table as a sign of hospitality. They may be as simple as toasted nuts flavored with garlic and chiles, bite-size pieces of cheese, or a bowl of pickled vegetables.Entremesés, on the other hand, are more apt to be served as the first course of a more formal meal, andantojitosare served just to sustain you until you are ready to really eat, perhaps many hours later.

    The world ofantojitosis diverse and varies depending on where you are in the...

    (pp. 75-94)

    Soups are an almost indispensable part of any Mexican’s daily diet, and it is not even unusual to start the day with a bowl of soup, as is common in Asia and many other parts of the world. One of my early-morning breakfast delights in the port of Veracruz is to prop myself up on a stool at one of the brightly painted seafood bars that are nestled right outside the frenetic fish market and slurp down a bowl of spicy crab or fish soup.

    When the Spaniards brought their tradition of eating long-simmered, rib-sticking soups to Mexico they were...

    (pp. 95-130)

    Mexican food does not fit into categories easily. Soups may be served for breakfast, eggs for a light supper dish, and enchiladas and tacos for either. Tamales are a sustaining and popular way to begin and end the day and they appear in variety of sizes and shapes. The most common are wrapped in dried corn husks or banana leaves, but fresh corn leaves and other larger aromatic leaves are also used. All are surprise packages just waiting to be opened.

    Combined withantojitosand a smattering of recipes from other chapters in this book, these dishes can become part...

    (pp. 131-212)

    In Mexico, families and friends traditionally gather around tables in the midafternoon, either at home or at their favorite restaurant, to socialize while they eatcomida, the most substantial meal of the day. Following various lighter courses, the heart of the meal appears, often some type of meat, poultry, or seafood enveloped in a lush savory sauce—the most important element of the dish. The exceptions are dishes that are roasted, grilled, sautéed, or, likefiambre(page 155), an arrangement of pickled meats and vegetables. They may be as simple as an ample cluster ofcamarones al mojo de ajo...

    (pp. 213-240)

    Have a meal in Mexico without beans? Forget it. Beans were one of the area’s first domesticated crops, and along with corn have been central to the Mexican diet for centuries, the two consumed together providing a much-needed complete protein. No matter where you are in the country you will be served a savory portion of red, black, mottled brown, white, soft pink, yellow, saddle tan, or speckled beans in one form or another.

    Although rice is a relative newcomer to Mexican cuisine, having arrived with the Spanish and the Africans in the 1500s, it is now a common component...

    (pp. 241-266)

    The indigenous people of what is now Mexico did not have a tradition of preparing and eating sweet snacks or desserts. Nor did the Africans who were brought there as slaves. In their native lands, they had fulfilled their craving for something sweet by eating melons; in the New World, they turned to the local pineapples, papayas, and other fruits.

    It was the Spanish and French colonists who brought with them to their new homes an almost insatiable craving for sweets. Starting in the morning or later for snacks, there were churros andbuñuelosmade with the wheat soon grown...

    (pp. 267-282)

    When hot and thirsty, a common occurrence in the sweltering, sluggish heat of Mexico’s coastal areas, and even at certain times in the highlands, everyone needs a cooling drink. At the beach, an agile young girl or boy might climb up a nearby coconut palm and provide you with the liquid energy of coconut water served in its own container. Alongside the ubiquitousrefrescos,or bottled carbonated soft drinks, offered by street or market vendors, you still happily find the traditional naturally flavoredaguas frescas. Being offered something to drink is a sign of hospitality to be accepted with gratitude....

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 283-284)
    Marilyn and Ricardo
  15. Sources
    (pp. 285-286)
  16. Index
    (pp. 287-310)