Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Mexican
Encarnacion's Kitchen: Mexican Recipes from Nineteenth-Century California (California Studies in Food and Culture, 9)
University of California Press
Published: October 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Though this bible of 19th-century California cuisine is now more than a century old, a new and seamless translation by Strehl (The Spanish Cook) proves that common sense culinary advice is timeless. Pinedo's introduction to her
recipes offers guidance on selecting produce and cuts of meat that stands the test of time, including this gem: "Foods are much more appetizing and healthy when they are cooked in a clean and tidy manner. Many lives have been sacrificed because of a lack
of cleanliness in bronze, copper, and ceramic pots." Many of the recipes themselves-which are organized traditionally, beginning with soups and ending with desserts-also stand up to today's picky tastebuds. Good examples of century-straddling delights
include Pinedo's recipes for whitefish stuffed with hazelnuts and almonds and for Relleno Para Ganso, or stuffing for goose, which, like many of the recipes, shies away from specific quantities ("Finely chop some cooked mushrooms...add a good piece of
butter, with some lemon juice"). Touted as traditional "Californio food" (cuisine prepared by Spanish-speaking California immigrants and residents), these recipes may be a little too exotic for the contemporary health-conscious palate: Menudo a la
Espanola (Spanish-style tripe) and Morcilla Negra a la Espanola (Spanish-style black blood sausage) are two such examples. Still, the book, with its Bunuelos, o Suspiros de Monjas (Puffy Fritters, or Nuns' Sighs), serves as a window on another time, as a
cultural document as much as a culinary one. And the simplicity with which these dishes can be recreated more than makes up for a deep-fried dependence on lard. Victor Valle (Recipe of Memory) provides an enlightening introductory essay that briefly
chronicles the life and times of the remarkable woman who shaped present day Cal-Mex cookery.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In 1991 Ruth Reichl, then a Los Angeles Times food writer, observed that much
of the style now identified with California cuisine, and with nouvelle cuisine du Mexique, was practiced by Encarnacion Pinedo a century earlier. A landmark of American cuisine first published in 1898 as El cocinero espanol (The Spanish Cook),
Encarnacion's Kitchen is the first cookbook written by a Hispanic in the United States, as well as the first recording of Californio food--Mexican cuisine prepared by the Spanish-speaking peoples born in California. Pinedo's cookbook offers a fascinating
look into the kitchens of a long-ago culture that continues to exert its influence today.
Of some three hundred of Pinedo's recipes included here--a mixture of Basque, Spanish, and Mexican--many are variations on traditional dishes, such as
chilaquiles, chiles rellenos, and salsa (for which the cook provides fifteen versions). Whether describing how to prepare cod or ham and eggs (a typical Anglo dish labeled "huevos hipocritas"), Pinedo was imparting invaluable lessons in culinary history
and Latino culture along with her piquant directions. In addition to his lively, clear translation, Dan Strehl offers a remarkable view of Pinedo's family history and of the material and literary culture of early California cooking. Prize-winning
journalist Victor Valle puts Pinedo's work into the context of Hispanic women's testimonios of the nineteenth century, explaining how the book is a deliberate act of cultural transmission from a traditionally voiceless group.
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