A Book Award Honoring Food Writing

Book Title:  Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy

Author: Diana Kennedy

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Copyright date: October 2010

Pages: 436

Genre: Food and Wine

Reason For Reading: I love good food books

Rating: A

Award Won: James Beard Foundation Award

As you may know, I can literally salivate while reading a good food book. I write about food every Saturday on my personal blog. I have even sponsored a book challenge to encourage readers to add good food books to their reading list. You could definitely say I like food books.

Food books are about more than collecting recipes. The best ones read like novels. There are some outstanding books in this genre, so today I want to highlight one that won an award in 2010.

The most prestigious awards have been given since 1990 by the James Beard Foundation. Time magazine called their awards “the Oscars of the food world.” Honors are awarded to restaurants, chefs, journalists, and authors.

Finding the James Beard Foundation Book Awards led me to the best food book of 2010. It’s Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy, researched and written by the legendary Diana Kennedy. This book is like an encyclopedia on the cuisine of Mexico.

Once I started reading Oaxaca al Gusto, it didn’t take long for me to understand why this book is so special. Diana Kennedy spent eleven years researching the information for this book and it shows. She traveled throughout the small towns and villages of Oaxaca, one of the states in southern Mexico. In each town she asked to meet the best cooks. She learned their best dishes and their techniques. There’s no way around it – this book is filled with authentic Mexican food recipes.

The state of Oaxaca is quite diverse, so Mrs. Kennedy organized her book around the state’s regions. The reader learns about the food of each region as well as the culture and the geography. There are 300 recipes in this giant tome, most of which contain ingredients available in the U.S. The cooks in these remote villages rely on locally grown products so the recipes don’t contain canned or packaged items.

In the beginning section Mrs. Kennedy focused on the three pillars of Mexican food: chocolate, corn and chilies. She’s very passionate about those three items and also about getting the right chiles from Oaxaca or other areas in Mexico. Mrs. Kennedy urges us to ask our stores to order from Mexico. According to her, it will help those farmers. (She says many of our chiles come from China. I’m going to have to check on that.)

The photography is stunning as you can see in the sample above. The book is rounded out with a great glossary and index.

Diana Kennedy has proven herself as an excellent food writer on the subject of Mexican cuisine. She’s a native of the United Kingdom but moved to Mexico in the mid-fifties to marry her husband, a journalist for the New York Times. She published her first book in 1972. Oaxaca al Gusto is her ninth book. Now in her late eighties, she has reportedly said Oaxaca al Gusto is her last book. If that’s true, I believe she left us a wonderful legacy.

I borrowed my copy from the public library. Check your local library or local bookseller. Oaxaca al Gusto is also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

About Margot

I'm also known as Joyfully Retired. I love to talk. I love to talk about books I've read, movies I've seen, places I've traveled to, people (especially my children and grandchildren), and Food. On the Quirky Girls Read blog I'm trying to read all the books that have won the major awards and then, of course, talk about them.
This entry was posted in Award Winners, Cookbooks, Nonfiction, Posts by Margot and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Book Award Honoring Food Writing

  1. Sounds like a fantastic book! I’ll have to track it down. Thank you, Margot!

  2. Beth F says:

    I’m so glad you highlight this book. I’ve been a fan of Diane Kennedy’s for near on 30 years. All her books are winners. Look at those beautiful photos!

  3. TheBookGirl says:

    This sounds wonderful; the fact that she took eleven years to accumulate the info is really impressive. Next time I’m looking to read an “award winner” I am going to consult the James Beard list, since I love food books.

  4. Uniflame says:

    This book does sounds lovely 🙂 11 years of research! Wow!

  5. This looks like a beautiful book! I bet my brother who is a chef would love it!

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