Mexican cooking Archive

It seems like everything I’ve dreamed of doing in Mexico, Diana Kennedy has already done — which makes sense, considering she arrived here in 1957. Kennedy has worked in a Mexican panadería. She has toured the country befriending fabulous cocineras, and coaxed out the secrets of their prized recipes. She’s passionate about preserving traditional Mexican cuisine just as it is. And she hasn’t wavered in that mission, even into her 80’s. Last Friday she gave a book presentation at UNAM’s Jardín Botánico, hosted by the university’s Instituto de Biología. The event honored her new cookbook, Oaxaca al Gusto, and Kennedy […]

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I’m going to be honest with you: the idea of making tamales from scratch used to scare the heck out of me. Even after I hosted my first tamalada in December 2009, I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing. What if I added too much masa? Too little? What if my tamales broke open and fell apart in the steamer? What if my masa turned out too dry? God forbid, what if I spent an entire afternoon making them and they weren’t any good? A few weeks ago, I had a tamale breakthrough. It was […]

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I wasn’t an immediate whiz on the Nixtamatic. The instruction manual for my new corn grinder was woefully lean. It basically said, “Turn it on and enjoy!” so I waited until Lola came over to clean, thinking she might have intrinsic knowledge of how the thing worked because she was Mexican. (This seems like a ridiculous notion now, because very few Mexicans in this city grind their own corn. But I was flailing.) Lola looked at the two-page manual, and I did too, over her shoulder. She looked over the parts and I did, too. “I guess we should add […]

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Mexico City newsstands lie just about on every block, and they’re kind of funny places. Most of the magazines are wrapped in plastic, so you really can’t stand and read as much as stand and stare at the titles. The newspapers are often clothes-pinned to a rack so you can only see the front page. Despite that, it’s super common for people here to just walk up to a newsstand and stare at what’s available. The vendor never rushes anybody, and he doesn’t say “Can I help you?” because it’s assumed that you’re going to stand there and peruse the […]

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Wow. I am so amazed by all the comments over the past three days. Y’all shared some fantastic memories, and I felt honored to read each of them. I wish I could give everyone just a little something (and maybe I will get to do that someday, when I’m rich and famous), but alas, the package goes to one winner. And he/she is…. Melodie! The commenter who ate turkey tamales wrapped in foil as a child, even though neither of her parents were Mexican. Melodie, you’ll receive the sweets package from La Nicolasa. I’ll email you directly using the email […]

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Every year in late summer and early fall, the chile en nogada makes its brief run through Mexico. The star ingredients, walnuts and pomegranate seeds, are not available any other time of the year. So it’s a festive time. Restaurant storefronts become festooned with “We have chiles en nogada!” banners. Pomegranates glitter at the tianguis. Mexican Independence Day is right around the corner (on Sept. 16), and the dish is pretty much the culinary centerpiece of the celebration. To me, the most interesting thing about chiles en nogada is that it’s a living piece of Mexican history. Puebla nuns invented […]

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Some of my favorite restaurants in Mexico City are the ones that take traditional Mexican ingredients and turn them on their heads. For instance, Mexicans have traditionally eaten amaranth grain as a sort of sweet snack. But why not take amaranth and use it in a savory dish? Heck, why not go the other direction and take a quesadilla and roll it in sugar? It’s surprising how few Mexico City restaurants veer in this type of direction. They’re either entirely traditional, or Mexican-French, or Mexican-something-else. Nothing wrong with those things, but it can be an absolutely inspiring experience to dine […]

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