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Authentic Mexican    by Rick Bayless & Deann Groen Bayless order for
Authentic Mexican
by Rick Bayless
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 1987 (1987)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Rick and Deann Bayless spent ten years traveling in Mexico, racking up more than thirty-five thousand miles. They visited the country's six distinct regions, learning to prepare local dishes. With Authentic Mexican, they introduce us to Mexico's cooks, their kitchens, markets and feasts. Without ever having to leave home, the family cook can produce real Mexican food, conjuring up their own particular feast. This cookbook was published in 1987 - but its age does not diminish the care, skill and expertise that went into it.

There are no glossy photographs (although there are some lovely line drawings), just a thick book crammed full of the most marvelous recipes. The introduction acts as a guide to Mexico itself, its regions, what you can expect to find in its restaurantes, cafeterias, street foods and fiestas. The cookbook begins with the all-important sauces or salsas. Each recipe is titled in English as well as Spanish. Techniques, a note on Ingredients, Timing, and Advance Preparation tips accompany each recipe. Fifteen pages alone offer Sauces and Condiments from Salsa Mexicana to Salsa Verde (Quick Cooked Tomatillo-Chile Sauce) to Pickled Red Onions.

Basic Meat Preparations, Flavoring, and Broths follow with Sheets of Pork in Chile-Spice Marinade, Shredded Poached Chicken, and Yucatecan Mixed-Spice Paste (which sounds spicy but one that wouldn't blow the top of your head off.) Moving right along, the authors carefully explain how to make dough for Tortillas or Tamales. Might give that a try. Love tortillas. Appetizers and Salads are next, with Melted Cheese with Roasted Peppers and Chorizo lead me to it. Mixed Vegetable Salad with Lime Dressing also appeals, as does the Lime-Cilantro Dressing.

Light and Hearty Soups are next, offering Garbanzo-Vegetable Soup with Smoky Broth and Fresh Avacado. Doesn't that sound wonderful? I can't list all the headings of this large bible of Mexican cooking in this limited space. But, I'll enumerate the dishes that I plan to try first: Scrambled Eggs and Potatoes in Tangy Green Sauce; Pan Fried Chicken Livers with Tomatillo Sauce; and one of my very favorites Quesadillas with Cheese. A dish fit for a queen. How about Stacked Tortillas with Shark, Black Beans and Tomato Sauce? Looks great.

Here's Chicken Tostados with Fresh Vegetables and Cream. The author says he would rather have a Sweet Tamale, made with sugar instead of salt and filled with a few raisins, than a croissant or Danish any day! Would love to have that. I would really like to try the Dark and Spicy Mole with Turkey. I've never had mole, but have heard of it. It's a must if one is to appreciate Mexican food. Fish and Shellfish how about Quick-Fried Fish with Roasted Peppers and Thick Cream? Whoa. Or Duck in Smooth Pumpkin Seed Sauce?

As the song says, 'and the beat goes on.' So does Authentic Mexican, a veritable treasure trove of mouthwatering recipes and vignettes of the Bayless' travels in Mexico. Worth every penny and then some. Be adventurous. Live with gusto. Go for it.

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