The Food and Life of Oaxaca: Traditional Recipes from Mexico's Heart by Zarela Martinez

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Notes about this book

  • robm on February 04, 2011

    An invaluable guide to the cooking of Oaxaca, land of the seven moles, and one of Mexico's great culinary heartlands.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Pumpkin-seed sauce with chicken (Pepían con pollo)

    • mcvl on June 03, 2020

      I'm not entirely sure I did this recipe justice. I made the sauce in my food processor rather than a blender, and it was quite crunchy and textured. (I like rough textures better than smooth.) And then when it was done it tasted a little flat, so I added a good amount of lime juice. I don't know enough about Oaxacan cuisine to know whether what I made was a travesty, but it was very much to my liking, and even if it's inauthentic I would do it that way again.

    • mcvl on June 06, 2020

      As I said, I don't know a lot about Oaxacan cooking, but I'm quite sure what I did with the leftover pepián was not traditional in any kind of cooking whatsoever. I used it to spice up a potato salad with diced raw onion, diced crispy bacon, and the brine from a bottle of green olives. Weird but good.

    • amoule on October 28, 2016

      From the last paragraph of the recipe: "It will look curdled and not very appetizing ...."

  • Aquilino's grilled chicken (Pollo asado Aquilino)

    • TrishaCP on May 17, 2015

      We used boneless and skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in and skin-on chicken since that is what we had. It worked ok but did get a bit gritty from the spice rub. (I never seem to have that problem with skin-on chicken, so I assume it was my choice of sub.) Even without chiles, the chicken was a bit spicy from the peppercorns and overall was flavorful and satisfying.

  • Goat in chile marinade, pit-barbecue style (Barbacoa de cabrito)

    • TrishaCP on November 07, 2016

      This was quite tasty- most similar to "pulled" barbecue items, though I did miss the smokiness from fire. Like most of the other Epicurious reviewers, I subbed lamb shoulder for goat. (I used a 4 1/2 lb lamb shoulder, so basically halved the recipe ingredients.) I also used about half guajillo chiles and half anchos, since I didn't have enough guajillos. I marinated the meat overnight, and then used my Le Creuset pot as the roaster, cooking at 325 F for about 2 1/2 hours and then at 300F for a final two hours. The sauce that is intended to make up for the missing juices isn't included here, but you will need canned tomatoes and chicken broth for it, and I think it is vital to the recipe.

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  • ISBN 10 0028603508
  • ISBN 13 9780028603506
  • Published Dec 08 1997
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 354
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc
  • Imprint Hungry Minds Inc,U.S.

Publishers Text

Deep in southern Mexico lies a magical place—a land of dramatic beauty, proud heritage, and food that some aficionados consider Mexico's best. The state of Oaxaca is a tapestry of many cultures still close to their pre-Hispanic roots. The rugged mountain ranges pocket the ancient languages, traditions, and foodways of the many different peoples who lived here even before the Aztecs, in the great days of the Zapotec Empire. In this very special collection of recipes and memories, author Zarela Martínez shares her love of The Food and Life of Oaxaca. Oaxaca is the most biologically and culturally diverse state of all Mexico. A proud village life still recalls the heroic resistance that the native peoples put up against the Spanish conquerors. The glorious state capital, Oaxaca City, offers a rich fusion of the Spanish and Indian (especially Zapotec) legacies, and sits in a valley where all good things grow abundantly, from wheat and apples to walnuts and cabbages. Other areas produce delicious tropical fruits; from the Pacific coast come fish and shellfish. All parts of Oaxaca grow a profusion of wonderful chile varieties used with bold subtlety throughout the region and special strains of corn that surpass even the usual excellence of Mexican corn. Created from this bounty are dishes that come from the hearts and souls of the Oaxacan people. The regional cuisine is inextricably tied to the days of the religious calendar and the deep communal life of the villages. The Food and Life of Oaxaca captures this interrelationship through traditional recipes from the major church celebrations — the most colorful being the Days of the Dead on November 1 and 2 — as well as through simple everyday dishes. Zarela shares the authentic tastes of Wedding Stew (a savory, Spanish-influenced braised chicken dish with pickled chiles), Gaspacho (a shredded meat salad, not a soup!), Potato-Cheese Fritters, and many of the state's famous tamales. In a richly detailed chapter, Zarela unlocks the secrets of the renowned regional moles — those sublime main-dish sauces that have earned Oaxaca the fond nickname "The Land of the Seven Moles." And what real chocolate-lover could resist the thrill of grinding chocolate from the actual beans? From the full-bodied and extravagant flavors of the major cities' most illustrious dishes to recipes from small villages, market stalls, and street peddlers, The Food and Life of Oaxaca explores the difference and delights of Oaxacan cooking. Even cooks already passionate about Mexican food will discover whole new worlds of flavors and techniques, some dating back to before the Conquest. Complementing the recipes, Laurie Smith's sensitive black and white photographs reveal the dignity and vitality of the Oaxacan people. The Food and Life of Oaxaca captures the vibrant spirit and lasting traditions that are leading more and more travelers to this alluring region of Mexico.

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