Pati Jinich’s new cookbook explores the treasure of Mexican cuisine

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Before becoming a household name associated with Mexican cuisine, Pati Jinich was a kitchen novice who couldn’t put a good meal on the table.

The Mexican foodie ambassador remembers when she was a newlywed who moved in 1997 from her home in Mexico City to Dallas, where her new husband was working.

“I was a poor cook when I moved to Texas. My English was terrible. I remember going to Mexican stores to shop and being impressed to see Mexicans everywhere,” she said. said, recalling her Texan indoctrination to the Mexican American pantry. As she shopped for chili peppers and other food essentials, she struck up casual conversations with other shoppers. “We started sharing recipes and they would invite me at their home.”

Recipe: Seafood Cocktail “Come Back to Life”

Jinich was quick to make friends. His English has improved. His kitchen too – out of necessity. Hungry for food from home, Jinich set out to master the art of Mexican cooking.

Today, she’s a James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author, and host of the long-running PBS series “Pati’s Mexican Table.” Considered an authority on Mexican cuisine and culture, Jinich’s culinary journey had strong roots in Mexico but flourished in Texas, thanks to those recipe-sharing home cooks she met in Dallas.

She calls the recipes treasures, and now she’s sharing her treasure in a new cookbook, “Treasures from the Mexican Table: Classic Recipes, Local Secrets.” Her most ambitious cookbook – it took her four years to research and write – ‘Treasures’ explores the expanse of Mexico with recipes from across the country, many from regions, sub-regions and even micro-regions. little known. There are recipes from little-known cooks, villages and single-family homes. It was her goal, she said, to show that Mexican cuisine is not one thing but an extraordinarily diverse expanse of ingredients, flavors, cultures and techniques.

Recipe: Zucchini and corn in poblano sauce

Jinich’s third cookbook comes at a time when interest in Mexican cuisine is at an all-time high. Americans have moved from the familiar rituals of taco night to a more varied and sophisticated appreciation of regional Mexican cuisines and Mexican-inspired fusion dishes.

While “Pati’s Mexican Table” does a lot to explore culinary traditions across Mexico, Jinich’s research for the new cookbook has unearthed a new appreciation for Mexican foods, even for an expert.

“I used to think of flour tortillas as something very American. And then you go to Sinaloa or Sonora, and their flour tortillas will give a corn tortilla a hard time,” she said, describing regional flour tortillas that can be as big as a embellishment or prepared with tiny shreds of cracklings in the dough. .

The book was an education for Jinich. “After so many years, instead of thinking I’ve mastered more, I realize there’s still so much I don’t know, and it makes me want to know more.”

Recipe: Salsa macha with mixed nuts

Much of that “more” is defined in the book by foods that are eaten at home, not in restaurants, she said. And even in Mexico, the country’s food is changing as people become familiar with the rich diversity of their own country. “It’s mind-boggling how unfamiliar Mexicans are with our own cuisine, because it’s so diverse from region to region,” she said.

In addition to working on the new cookbook, Jinich has produced a new PBS show, “La Frontera,” a two-part special that explores the US-Mexico border region through stories of artists, musicians, d athletes, chefs and local celebrities who reflect the mixed life of the frontier. Jinich, a resident of Maryland, has long been fascinated by frontier life, which has recently been shaped amid unstable politics and pandemic concerns.

“Having spent so many years going back and forth, I try to bust the myths about Mexicans and Mexico,” she said. “I felt drawn to the frontier and frontier themes.”

With her easy smile, cheerful demeanor and natural curiosity, Jinich is a perfect presenter of the frontier stories of “La Frontera”, whose people, she said, are constantly navigating the changing cultures and politics of the two sides.

Of course, diplomacy is often much easier when there is food involved. she declared. “The walls are falling. Food opens the door, as does art, music or poetry.

Jinich’s art takes a delightful step forward with his new cookbook.

“I hope these treasures become treasures in your home. That they become staples and that you pass them on and feel free to adapt them as your own,” she said. the beauty of the recipes.”

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