Mexico – The cookbook by Phaidon
This book is no mean feat – with over 700 (!!) pages of recipes, this massive volume is everything but a desirable companion for your daily commute. It is packed with gorgeous photos on mate paper, proper and tasteful food porn.
All the classics are there, from tacos, to tamales, to moles, you’ll find a dozen variations for each. But then, you’ll find a whole load of seriously authentic and tasty sounding stews, soups, and more. Most recipes are manageable, although some call for rather exotic ingredients that you won’t likely find outside Mexico (avocado leaves? fresh epazote? chapulines?). Obviously, you’ll need access to a Mexican shop to source your chillies (of all kinds), masa harina, and many others.
The only thing that the next edition of the book could do more is to add more text. Lots more text. As it stands, beyond a very basic introductory text about Mexican food, the rest of the book is pretty much a very dry and endless list of recipes. It would be lovely if each recipe had its little introduction paragraph, where the recipes are from, a funny anecdote about the dish or an ingredients, anything that makes us learn something about the dish.
In short, this book is clearly a “must-have” for any fanatic of Mexican food. If you have to own only one recipe book on the topic – this is hands down the best out there, and it’s very likely to remain this way for many years to come. If you’re looking for more “text” – insights in the ingredients, stories, and recipes of this incredible complex culture (and less of an encyclopedic compendium of recipes), go for the books of Rick Bayless, Hugo Ortega, or Diana Kennedy. And if you speak Spanish, the ideal compromise would be the “Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana” – the best classic book on Mexican cuisine we’ve seen, sadly it’s been not easy to find.