On Stage with Rick Bayless

There are only two weeks left to watch Rick Bayless in Cascabel, a theatrical collaboration with the Lookingglass Theater Company, at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. Chris Jones critic for the Chicago Tribune says that you feel like you are watching a culinary artist explore his roots. The first run of this show in 2012 was a smashing hit and this return engagement delivers yet another culinary and visual feast. Billed as Cascabel:  Dinner–Daring–Desire, watch Rick win the heart of all those who live in the boardinghouse, as their sensual awakening are, in this show, circus acts.

A gourmet Mexican feast, wine, beer, circus, flamenco, comedy, live music and a love story.

Why are we importing fish? An essay by Paul Greenberg

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Hundreds of shrimp trawlers setting off from the Shenjiamen fishing port in eastern China in 2010. Credit Hu Sheyou/Xinhua Press, via Corbis

Paul Greenberg is the author of the forthcoming book “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” from which this essay was adapted and shared this past Sunday in The New York Times. I highly recommend reading it, it’s food for thought.

We can have no more intimate relationship with our environment than to eat from it. During the last century that intimacy has been lost, and with it our pathway to one of the most healthful American foods. It is our obligation to reclaim this intimacy. This requires us not just to eat local seafood; it requires the establishment of a working relationship with our marine environment. It means, in short, making seafood not only central to personal health, but critical to the larger health of the nation.

A Culinary Adventure in Chiapas, Mexico with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Munoz

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A lesson in making tamales in San Cristobal, Chiapas
Photo by Igancio Urquiza

8/25 Trip is full and a waiting list has been started.

Chiapas and Tabasco here we come! We finally decided on these two very southern states for our February culinary adventure with most of the time being spent in Chiapas, a state with a very interesting cuisine, including an incredible variety of different types of tamales—at least fifty that I have tasted, seen, or heard about. We still are not sure if we will start the trip in Villahermosa, Tabasco or Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. I did, however, wanted to give you a heads up on what will be included no matter where we may start the trip.

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

We will be exploring many of the different regions of Chiapas, from the rugged mountains and cloud forest surrounding the 6,900 feet high colonial city of San Cristóbal, to the lowland rain forests where we will spend a night in cabins in the region where many of the Lancandóns live, just one of the many groups of indigenous people in Chiapas.

Most tourists come to this state to visit the spectacular archeological sites, especially Palenque, however my favorite is the isolated Yaxchilan which we can only get to by boat on the Rió Usamacinta that forms the border with Guatemala.

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Yaxchilan

 

 We will explore these as well as Bonampak with its vivid Mayan murals inside one of the temples.

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Murals in Bonampak Archeological site, Chiapas

The first time my husband, Fredric and I were here years ago, we had to hike and climb several really rough miles on a muddy, virtually impossible trail, but now there is a paved road all the way.

 

We hope to have our classes at Casa Ná-Bolom, the former home of Frans Blom an explorer and archeologist, and his wife Trudi Blom, a photographer and anthropologist who explored this region. Trudi is famous for her work on Lacandón culture and her photographs are on display at the house museum which we will visit.

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Church in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

 

We also will be visiting several of the nearby villages including San Juan Chamula and its very unusual church with pine needles scattered on the floor, and sometimes chickens are in attendance. Close by is the village of Zincantán, where we are hoping to schedule another traditional meal like we have had in the past with a local family who also are known for their weaving.

 

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Family in Zincantan, Chiapas

 

 

 

 

On our way to Palenque and Tabasco, we will stop at a very special small cheese producer of the local cheeses, including Rick Bayless’s favorite “doble crema,” and visit the dazzling waterfalls Agua Azul as the water tumbles down the numerous small cliffs.

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Olmec head in Villahermosa, Tabasco

In Tabasco, we will spend time in the fascinating La Venta where gigantic 6-foot tall carved stone Olmec heads weighing at least 20 tons are interspersed throughout a jungle-like setting.

Both Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Ricardo Muñoz will be with us to give classes and share their culinary knowledge and one day, Ricardo’s aunt, an excellent home cook, will give a demonstration of some of the regional foods of her area.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Later this summer, we will have the exact dates, but I expect it to be on or around the week of February 14-22. At that time, we will let you know the total cost. Do let me know if you are interested in joining us on this trip. It will truly be a culinary adventure.

 

Rick Bayless’s Extensive Library

www.culinaryadventuresinc.com; http://eater.com/archives/2014/03/28/rick-bayless-cookbook-shelf.php

Photo by Paula Forbes

Paula Forbes recently wrote this great article on Rick Bayless and his extensive library and how it is utilized, and how Rick creates an environment for ongoing education for himself and for his staff as they research foods for their menus. It is one of a series in The Cookbook Shelf, in which Eater talks to food professionals about their book collections.

I thought I had many, many Mexican cookbooks but obviously not as many as Rick. My books are erupting all over the window ledges and even the floors so I have donated many to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at San Antonio, Texas where they are teaching students from all over Mexico and Central America. It is a very special place with a very dedicated purpose.

And by the way, I am the one now editing Ricardo Munoz’s book that Rick mentioned. A mutual friend of ours, Carmen Barnard Baca, my former coordinator in Mexico, was one of the three translators, along with her brother, Roberto Barnard Baca and Cristina Potters, and now I am editing it and working with the University of Texas Press so that it will soon be available.

Chefs’ trip 2014 – Yucatán with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz

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This September 27 to October 5, we will have our twelfth chefs’ trip to Mexico, and this year we will return once again to Yucatán, where we last did one over 10 years ago. As you can see from the photo, it can be quite intense.

Besides Rick and Ricardo, other local cooks and chefs such as Roberto Solis will be sharing their knowledge of both the traditional foods of the Maya and the more modern renditions, all quite unlike those in the rest of Mexico and their more modern renditions.

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achiote

Many of these dishes will have green, black or red recado seasoning paste with achiote for flavoring such dishes as cochinita pibil, originally prepared with the native peccary cooked in a pit. You will sample my favorite dip, sikil-pák, made with pumpkin seeds and dzotobichay, a huge tamal stuffed with chopped hard-cooked eggs and wrapped with chaya leaves.

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Cochinita bibil

I always like to combine the rather intense cooking classes and other food related experiences with some time to learn about culture, especially in Yucatán so one day we will visit one of the major archeological sites, but, of course, eating some interesting food along the way.

These chef trips do fill quickly, and I always like to leave spots for those who haven’t been with us before so do let me know if you are interested in joining us in September. We have not yet confirmed the schedule so do not have a cost as of now, but I should know soon and will let you know. I expect it to be approximately $4,200, the same as last year. To hold a space, please contact us and we will send you the necessary paperwork for you to send back with a deposit.

Update:  We have had cancellations on this trip, if you are interested, please contact us. The final price for this trip is $4,200 and the dates are Sept. 27-Oct. 5.