A cooking lesson with Pilar Cabrera

A delightful view of my good friend Pilar Cabrera as she teaches a few students about the art of making tamales, like the ones her grandmother taught her to make. Pilar is the chef of La Olla Restaurante in Oaxaca. Her food is delicious.

Chicken and biscuits, that’s what it takes to silence Rick Bayless

Shaw Lash used to work with Rick and Deann Bayless and now works as culinary producer for Panna, the video cooking magazine for iphone and ipads. This video from their website, really shows the personal side to Rick that makes him so “Rick,” a caring, passionate lover of regional foods from all over the world. It just makes me smile and I wanted to share it with you as I think of Rick, Deann and their staff in Oaxaca.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July.

Ride, Cook and Eat

Our good friends, Mary Jane and Bobby, have a new horseback adventure, Ride, Cook and Eat at their wonderful Rancho Pitaya located in the valle of Tlacolula 20 minutes from downtown Oaxaca. It includes two hours of guided riding, a cooking demo, lunch and roundtrip transport from Oaxaca. We highly recommend it.

For more information on Horseback Mexico, you can reach Bobby or Mary Jane at Rancho Pitaya.

Great food, friends and fond memories–Frontera Grill and Rick Bayless

www.culinaryadventuresinc.com

Rick Bayless and Marilyn Tausend
Sooke Harbour House, Marilyn’s 80th Birthday Celebration
Photo by Bill Blair

One morning, over twenty years ago, when in Chicago, I wanted to meet Rick Bayless, as his first cookbook Authentic Mexican written with his wife, Deann, had only recently been published. We had previously talked on the phone and he expressed an interest in the regional culinary trips that I was leading in Mexico, so off I went to his first flagship restaurant.

The front door of Frontera Grill was locked, no one was inside that I could see, so my intrepid husband, Fredric said for us to try the back door. We did, banged on it, and when it opened, there was a startled Rick. He served us up some tasty soup and soft tacos and we proceeded to have a long, interesting discussion. That was the first of many times over the years that I have eaten at Frontera. I only wish I could be there to celebrate the 26th anniversary of its opening. Congratulations to Rick, Deann and their wonderful staff for their efforts to present such truly representative dishes from the region we both know and love.

Over the following years, we have spent many important occasions together, Christmases in Oaxaca, birthdays, and their daughter, Lanie’s quinceañera. Thank you for being our friends. You have all enriched my life by your friendship.

Abrazos.

Vows on Horseback at Rancho Pitaya

This holiday, during our usual sojourn to Oaxaca, we had the privilege of attending my good friend Mary Jane Gagnier’s spectacular and very unique wedding to Bobby Ortiz. Mary Jane and Bobby own Rancho Pitaya a deluxe B&B-style accommodation in the Valley of Tlacolula, the eastern arm of the great valley of Oaxaca 20 minutes from downtown Oaxaca. Mary Jane was led into the ceremony on her horse guided by her son, Gabriel Mendoza and wearing my white leather riding gloves from my rodeo days. True to their passion and love for their ranch, Mary Jane and Bobby took their vows while seated on their favorite horses. The ensuing party was a perfect combination of good friends, family, food, laughter and dancing! Pictures were taken by my friends Bill Blair and Shelora Sheldon.

Rancho Pitaya offers overnight rides, adventure holidays, trail rides, hiking and birding activities. Mary Jane also owns and runs a vacation rental in downtown Oaxaca at Casa Murguía. You can find Rancho Pitaya on Facebook.

Mexican Cuisine’s African Roots

As a great deal of the historical information was cut from my new book due to lack of space, I was recently asked to include some of the background on Africa’s influence on the Mexican cuisine for the University of California Press blog and though I would share it and some of the photos taken by Nacho Urquiza of an African family on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica.

Antonieta Avila Salinas's Costa Chica Family

Antonieta Avila Salinas’s Costa Chica Family
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

African Influence on Mexican Cuisine
by Marilyn Tausend

I have been traveling throughout Mexico exploring the incredibly multi-cultured cuisine of its people for the last three decades. It was, though, only since researching the history of the African presence in Mexico for my newest cookbook, La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine, did I realize that during the many years I’ve been coming to the tree-shrouded small village of La Antigua in Veracruz, that I had often stood right in front of Mexico’s first slave market, now the site of the local school. During the seventy-five years or so after Cortés moved his small contingent of Spanish troops and other followers south in 1525 from Quiahuiztlan to this safer harbor, thousands of Africans were put on the block to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. I since have visited many places in Veracruz where these slaves were relocated, some still retaining African names such as the nearby popular resort of Mocambo which means “sorrow” in the Congo dialect.[

Some African slaves also accompanied their Spanish owners during the exploration of New Spain with apparently the first African to set foot in these new lands being on Columbus’s second expedition. Twenty years later, the first black slaves in Mexico arrived with Hernan Cortés from the West Indies.

Read the rest of the article here.

Costa Chica Fishing by Nacho Urquiza

Costa Chica Fishing
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

Barbacoa de Pescado by Nacho Urquiza

Barbacoa de Pescado (recipe page 167-168)
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

Caldo de Tichnidas, Costa Chica

Antonieta making Caldo de Tichnidas
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

TriniGourmet’s Review

Here is an excerpt from TriniGourmet’s review of La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine.

“Not only is it a loving record of the places and people she’s encountered in over 30 years of organizing culinary tours, she writes so evocatively that you quickly feel as though those experiences are your own!

Not simply a cookbook, La Cocina Mexicana, also strives to form a historical record of the cultures and landscapes of the many regions and peoples of Mexico. Infinitely more diverse than I was aware, this is not a cookbook for those who are looking for tacos, quesadillas, or a simple bean dip. It’s not that those are not available, however, Mexican cuisine is so much more. This is after all a country of 111 million people! Tausend opens our eyes, and palates, to the dishes of such indigenous peoples as the Zapotecs, Mayans and Otomí.

She also vividly describes and elaborates on the influence of not only the Spanish and French on Mexican cuisine, but also the Africans who were brought as slaves and whose place names and descendants still populate the Veracruz region, as well as the northern Pacific coast. In providing the idiom ‘you can find ah Trini anywhere’, the Roman Catholic priest for one of these remote Afro-Mexican communities was a Trinidadian priest by the name of Father Glyn Jemmott Nelson. You can view an interesting interview with him below.”

To read the entire review, go here.