A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Welcome to our new series highlighting cookbooks in the Thomas Ford Memorial Library collection. Each week we will review a cookbook that offers helpful hints or great ideas. Some of the cookbooks may simplify your meal planning and preparation, while others might challenge you to expand your offerings and impress your guests. We promise a variety of cuisines and hope you find the series helpful and entertaining.
The first edition was published in 1987. We have the slightly revised twentieth anniversary edition from 2007.
What kind of cookbook is it?
In Authentic Mexican, Bayless translates preparing the regional dishes of Mexico from native kitchens to modern American kitchens. He starts each recipe with history and then provides full instructions, including comments on methods of food preparation.
Is it easy to use?
Many dishes that Bayless includes in his book require some planning and working ahead. Meats may need to marinate and sauces may need to be prepared and set aside. If the ingredients are prepared ahead, some dishes can be quickly prepared, but cooks should allow time to fix most of other dishes, as would the cooks south of the border.
Can you easily buy the ingredients?
In the preface to his twentieth anniversary edition, Bayless says that even when he first published Authentic Mexican, there were many people of Mexican heritage living in the United States running small restaurants and specialty groceries. So, the ingredients could be found. Now most supermarkets carry a wider range of fresh foods and spices, making the shopping for tomatillos and key limes even easier. Finding cactus paddles and prickly pear fruit might still be a little challenging.
What is special about Authentic Mexican?
Authentic Mexican offers a great alternative to homogenized and industrialized “Mexican” fast foods sold at drive-up windows or in frozen food sections. Most dishes are lighter and healthier fare than cheese heavy Tex-Mex offerings of chain restaurants (though Bayless he likes some of them, too.)
Bayless goes beyond just providing recipes. He also adds a sizable glossary for ingredients and equipment needed to prepare Mexican dishes.
What are your favorite recipes from this book?
I very much like Fresh Corn Chowder with Roasted Peppers (p. 99) and Chicken-filled Enchiladas with Tangy Tomatillo Sauce (p. 154).
Review by Rick