Authoritative Mexican cookbook aims for authenticity

Mexico: The CookbookNPR's The Salt  just featured a recently published cookbook billed as a "comprehensive bible of authentic Mexican home cooking." Mexico: The Cookbook features a collection of recipes drawn from all across Mexico. Although it's not the first cookbook to document Mexico's regional cuisines - Diana Kennedy has already tackled the subject - this is the first written by a Mexican native, Margarita Carrillo.

Carrillo is a chef and food activist who has a popular Latin American cable cooking show and lobbied to get Mexican cuisine listed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. She spent years scouring hundreds of recipes from every region of the country to produce Mexico: The Cookbook. Because of her deep commitment to Mexican cuisine, Publisher Phaidon Press made a beeline to Carillo when it was looking to add to its line of authentic, country-specific cookbooks.

Clocking in at 700+ pages and containing 600 recipes, "the book, at first glance, can be daunting. But most of the recipes are just a paragraph long, with prep and cook times under 20 minutes. That emphasis on simplicity was a deliberate choice: Carrillo wrote her book in hopes of encouraging American home cooks to explore Mexico's vast and varied, 'labyrinthine' culinary bounty."

You won't find any fusion or foams here. Carrillo says she wants everyone, Mexicans included, to appreciate the food and techniques that have survived generations and "made traditional Mexican cuisine an invaluable representation of a nation with a rich cultural identity." While noting that food evolves, she also explains that portions of the cuisine have endured for centuries. "[Y]ou can eat the same tortilla that Moctezuma ate 500 years ago," she says. Visit NPR to listen to the full interview with Carrillo.

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