By Rick Bayless
with JeanMarie Brownson and Deann Groen Bayless
When it comes to at-home Mexican meals, America is at the "the spaghetti and meatballs stage," a reference to the state of Italian food in this country a short decade or two ago.
One man is trying to change all that with some of the most exciting, flavorful, authentic dishes to be found in anywhere in the world, all presented in simple, authentic recipes perfect for the American kitchen.
In the United States, the name Rick Bayless is simply synonymous with Mexican cuisine. The owner of Chicago's groundbreaking Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants, Bayless has done more than any other chef in this country to introduce Americans to authentic Mexican food. His knowledge of and passion for Mexican cooking have earned Bayless both the James Beard Award for National Chef of the Year and the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Chef of the Year award, and his Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen won the IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award.
Last May, Bayless extended his role as a culinary ambassador for Mexico to a new stage—television. His 26-part public television series, Mexico—One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless, explores dozens of locations in Mexico, and then returns to Bayless's kitchen, where he translates Mexican recipes into user-friendly dishes. In October 2000, Scribner is proud to publish the companion to Rick's series, Mexico—One Plate at a Time . Celebrating Mexico's most classic dishes, Mexico—One Plate at a Time invites anyone who enjoys good food on a mouthwatering journey of discovery.
"When it comes to Mexican cooking," writes Bayless, "Most of us aren't even familiar with the everyday classics found in Mexican kitchens all through the country—the moles, ceviches, adobos and barbacoas—let alone all the nuances and specialties of Mexico's regional cuisines ... We're still at the 'spaghetti-and-meatballs stage'—that stage most of us were at with Italian cooking just 25 years ago."
Mexico—One Plate at a Time provides much more than just recipes. Divided into four sensible sections — Starters, Snacks and Light Meals; Soups, Stews and Sides; Entrees; and Desserts and Drinks—the book is further broken down into what Bayless calls "mini-chapters." In each mini-chapter, Bayless takes a threefold approach: First, he offers an introduction to one of the Mexican classics, explaining its flavor, history, and culture, and shares the best recipe (or recipes) he has encountered in his twenty-five years of cooking Mexican food. Next, he includes a contemporary spin on the classic dish that captures the spirit of the original but updates it for the 21st Century. and finally, he addresses the questions that arose while he and his team were testing the recipes, with the goal of providing insight into both why the dishes work and how to best cook them.
A mini-chapter on guacamole, for example, unearths both the Aztec derivation of the word as well as its role as "the butter of the poor" for early Spanish settlers. The recipe for "Classic Guacamole" is followed by an updated version, "Roasted Poblano Guacamole with Garlic and Parsley." Bayless concludes the section by answering questions like "How Does Avocado Ripeness Affect Guacamole Flavor?" and "How Long Does Guacamole Keep and What is the Best Way to Hold It?" The food and the culture are brought vividly to life.
Throughout Mexico—One Plate at a Time, which is illustrated with photographs from his extensive travels south of the border, Bayless provides valuable insight into authentic Mexican cuisine, including classics like "Red Mole with Turkey and Pork in Tomatillo Sauce," as well as authentic versions of the Mexican foods Americans only know superficially, dishes like quesadillas, tamales, and even tacos.
"My passion for Mexican cuisine aside," writes Bayless, "I wrote this book—and created the accompanying television show—for another reason: I want to engage as many people as I can in sharing fresh, honest food." To that end, Bayless stresses the importance of authentic ingredients, seasonal foods, ethnic traditions, and the communal spirit of sharing delicious food throughout this culinary tour of a country that is at once near and far, familiar and exotic.
Mexico—One Plate at a Time
By Rick Bayless
with JeanMarie Brownson & Deann Groen Bayless
Scribner, October 2000
368 pages, color, black & white illustrations
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created February 2001
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