Back in the 1950s people didn’t appreciate other country’s foods … as they do now … but it’d take the likes of pioneer cookery writers to set the standards … Julia Childs, Elizabeth David, and of course Diana Kennedy – who has put Mexican cuisine on the map …
|Diana Kennedy in 2016|
We were due to see this film last year … but in the circumstances had to wait … that did not deter … I was so interested I bought her book – updated in 2016 from the 1984 earlier version: ‘Nothing Fancy: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food’. What an excellent read.
This no-nonsense English lady, born in 1923 – yes she is 98 - learnt to cook from her grandmother and mother … then went to work in Wales during the War as a timber girl – here she appreciated the availability of fresh food off the land …
|Her book: Nothing Fancy|
|Book of the Month -|
Things advanced rather rapidly … Diana’s knowledge of Mexican recipes, how they were cooked, then served in authentic cazuelas (earthen ware) … was immediately accepted.
Frances McCullough in her foreword to the book ‘Nothing Fancy’ states that Diana Kennedy has documented and saved many of the dishes of the authentic regional cuisines of Mexico with the eyes of a botanist and an anthropologist as well as those of a fine cook.
|Benito Juarez Market|
Her husband was very supportive – I guess eating fascinating interesting food when he was home – encouraged him to bring back recipes for her …
|In the hills above|
The chapters in the book make for a fascinating insight into how she thinks … and thus what she considers a necessity for our future world in the culinary sense … the chapters I set out:
|Freshly churned English butter|
“My Betes Noires” … where she excoriates various items including cassia (the cinnamon imposter) … and water is liquid gold – do not ever waste a drop …
“Equipment I Simply Cannot Do Without” … a Cuisinart machine; coffee/spice grinders; lots of cazuelas … a large selection of wooden spoons and stirrers, white rubber spatulas – no coloured ones!
|The Mexican national dish -|
The “Ingredients” and “Cookbookese” … chapters include acerbic comments.
“My Bêtes Noires Vertes” … first she says she’ll look in your garbage can/rubbish bin …this should be sustainably kept – and she goes on to particularly white chef items … the bleach to obtain these whites – kills the water … which is liquid gold…
|Seville orange marmalade|
I am totally caught up in Diana Kennedy’s vision with that over-riding nostalgia of earlier days … Christmas is coming – actually we still have a traditional family time – everything fresh and home-made … happy memories too.
Oh Golly Gosh … as I used to say to my Ma … so many memories of times gone by – but this was a wonderful find.
|Close up ... with her English tea|
Diana Kennedy’s British upbringing rings out through her life – I can feel and see it … via the film and the book … encouraging us to think ahead … do not waste … enjoy foods from the land.
While during her time in Mexico she has embraced authentic Mexican cooking and all that entails … disseminating Mexican culture through its foods and ensuring that native ingredients and traditional recipes found in villages are not lost.
|Scottish (of course) shortbread -|
often the tea-time fare of
Diana Kennedy is recognised as the “grand dame of Mexican cuisine” – a true title if ever there was one.
I hope you can get to see the film … it is on YouTube … and perhaps read the book – which personally I think is more interesting … perhaps it’s the nostalgia of my mother’s and my life through Diana’s years …
The Diana Kennedy Center - more details about her life and work ...
Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy - trailer ... I couldn't easily find which film would be best for each of your country's ... but from the trailer in YouTube I hope you can find it ...
PS - I know and I knew I'd be castigated for calling shortbread English ... I know it's Scottish ... but we're talking an English lady ... so my wrist is slapped!
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