Tuesday, 21 June 2011
I like this one an awful lot. It's approach is very different from the other books which aim to be encyclopaedias of Mexican cooking. This book has a much narrower range (and somehow seems to accomplish more as a result), he covers a large variety of salsas, followed by a number of different guacamoles, then nut thickened sauces and moles. Finally all of the various sauces are drawn on in the final chapters in a variety of meat and fish dishes.
There isn't a huge emphasis on the ethnographic matters that Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless cover, for example there isn't a huge chapter in this book, as there is in the other two, on dishes made from corn masa. Rather he is satisfied with a brief description on the method of making corn tortillas, the salsas and moles making up the heart of the book.
There are a couple of very interesting recipes. There is a restaurant here in Monterrey which specialises in chicken tostadas smothered in crema and a very smooth guacamole containing tomatillo - there is a recipe here for this guacamole, which is something I have been meaning to try for a while now. I also have a bag of pumpkin seeds waiting in the cupboard to be included in a pumpkin seed sauce, something he has a straightforward example of.
The book is beautifully photographed by Romulo Yanes, who was a photographer for Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, everything looks delicious without looking manicured or overly fussed with.
Santibanez himself seems to have come from a European culinary background and is careful to spend time explaining how the techniques used are different from those which would be familiar to someone more acquainted with French or Italian cooking.