Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

"One of the greatest contributions to the Mexican table imaginable," reads the sticker on this cookbook cover. I purchased it for $24.95 when it first came out in 1987 (now it's $44.29 on Amazon and $32.50 via the author's website). There weren't many Mexican cookbooks available in the States back then -- in fact, Authentic Mexican's inner sleeve describes itself as "the only complete and easy-to-use compendium of our southern neighbor's cooking." Nowadays there are Mex texts by the score, and Rick Bayless has become well known as chef/owner of Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo; cookbook author; and host of Cooking Mexican (and other shows) on Public Television. This, his first effort, was written with wife Deann.

Authentic Mexican has, over the decades, become what's known in the biz as a classic. It

remains an excellent resource for understanding the fundamentals of

Mexican gastronomy, replete with invaluable "Cook's Notes" in the

columns of nearly every page (techniques, regional variations,

buying/storing/cooking tips, menu suggestions, contemporary twists, and

so forth). The recipes are great and cover all territory -- tacquería

snacks to entrees, drinks to desserts (mole poblano, Yucatecan shrimp

tacos, fish steamed in banana leaves, caramel custard, ice creams,

tequila-riddled cocktails...)

Tomorrow, in honor of Mexican Independence Day, we'll share a recipe from the book for horchata, an almond-rice cooler that's incredibly refreshing to drink in hot weather.

Amazon rank: 377,000 (a bona fide Short Order hit!)

Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless.

Published by William Morrow & Company, Inc.

384 pages

Jacket design by Elizabeth F. Slott

Jacket painting: Mujer con Pescados by Francisco Zuniga.