Recently called a “national treasure” by the Mexican Ambassador, legendary cooking expert and cookbook author Diana Kennedy has traversed Mexico for the past 50 years, documenting original authentic cuisine shared with her by the country’s people. Part travelogue, part cookbook, Diana’s books bring to life the cultural cuisine of this heritage-rich land.
We recently spoke with Diana, who has just republished one of her bestselling cookbooks, The Art of Mexican Cooking, and is putting the finishing touches on her new cookbook focusing on the cuisine of the Oaxaca region.
Q: What was the inspiration for your new book?
A: Many people only know the food of the central valley of Oaxaca, but there are actually 14 different areas. I was in the mountains researching [this book] for years.
Q: Do you have a simple recipe that you recommend for the home cook?
A: I have lots of them! When people get a new book, they should approach it the way I do. First, I go through it and choose what I’ll make. Then, I make sure that I have the ingredients. Good guacamole is easy to make and a good chicken broth is easy—you just have to look after it a bit.
Q: What’s your favorite featured menu item?
A: The Tostada de Calabaza Frita, which is in my book. This is a snack served in the cantinas, and I love it. It’s nice to have something for vegetarians, and you can also make it with pumpkin.
Not culinarily inclined? Then stop by Oyamel Cocina Mexicana’s Day of the Dead celebration now through November 3 to sample several of Diana’s specialties. Our favorite (like her!) was the Tostada de Calabaza Frita, a stewed blend of calabaza squash, onion, and green pepper that tops a crispy tostada and gets its kick from a bit of habanero chile. Oyster lovers should try the Ostiones Pimentados Estilio Tamaulipas—Rhode Island Moonstone Oysters bathed in a tangy peppercorn sauce. Diana’s love for native ingredients and age-old cooking methods keeps traditional Mexican flavors alive in an ever-changing world