REVIEW: Marilyn Tausend’s La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine (video)

La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine

My Verdict:4/5 (1 point deducted for recipe complexity, niche ingredients, lack of vegetarian friendly recipes)
Buy from Veni Mange – The Trinigourmet Amazon Store!

I first became aware of Marilyn Tausend’s work in the early days of TriniGourmet, when I posted about her Mexican Culinary Tours. In the years since then however her name fell off my radar and my awareness of Mexican cuisine similarly languished. That’s why I leaped at the opportunity to review her latest title “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 OtomĂ­.

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.

Intrigued by this little-known part of Mexican history, I decided that one of the first two recipes that I would try from La Cocina Mexicana would be from the African people in Oaxaca. That dish Barbacoa de Pescado (Chile-Marinated Steamed Fish), was a simple fiery concoction which my family completely devoured. The other dish, a Cilantro Soup, was also a knockout. Both will be blogged in more detail in the coming weeks. 🙂

(L) Barbacoa de Pescado (Chile-Marinated Steamed Fish), (R)Sopa de Cilantro (Cilantro Soup)

In striving for authenticity, La Cocina Mexicana pays short attention to vegetarian fare and for kosher adherents like myself, most of the meat dishes are a no-go with their reliance on pork or inclusion of diary. As someone who is comfortable adapting recipes I relish the opportunity to play around with the templates Tausend has provided and look forward to making them ‘my own’. However if these dietary concerns are ones that you share do be warned that you will have to do some extra mental preparation before you can jump into many of the main/side course offerings. Also possibly daunting to home cooks are the number of (sometimes hard to find) ingredients/stages that some of the recipes require. These are, in many cases, not 30-minute meals. Be prepared to undertake many of these recipes on a leisurely weekend or when time is not in short supply and to play around with substitutions.

Ordinarily these observations would lower my rating of a cookbook, however in this case I am so genuinely excited by the uniqueness of the material and depth of research that I am willing to advocate that you look beyond the ‘challenges’ and give these recipes a chance. Having said that I do think La Cocina Mexicana is for the intermediate to experienced home cook. One who is confident with varied cooking techniques, delights in hunting out new ingredients and enjoys playing around with a recipe on the fly.

Have you tried a recipe from La Cocina Mexicana? What did you think? 🙂

My Verdict:
La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine
4/5 (1 point deducted for recipe complexity, niche ingredients, lack of vegetarian friendly recipes)
Buy from Veni Mange – The Trinigourmet Amazon Store!


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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • Marilyn Tausend

    I am so pleased that you understood the heart and soul of this book and the research that went into the writing. Thank you for your thoughtful review. Buen Provecho!

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