Food from My Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined

Zarela Martinez, Author
Zarela Martinez, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $25 (354p) ISBN 978-0-02-580471-5
Paperback - 345 pages - 978-0-02-860361-2
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The author, proprietor of the Zarela restaurant in New York City, promises ``a memoir, a guide to Mexican culinary basics, and a personal recipe collection, all interspersed with glimpse-by-glimpse evocations of Mexican life and culture.'' She keeps the promise. Recipes and techniques are here in abundance, yet the book is truly for those who always wished that culinary introductions, notes and sidelights on appreciation would never end. Martinez delivers both personal reminiscence and cultural insight with the taste and candor of an experienced hostess--a memoir of a family servant nestles up with a fiercely patriotic sidebar on the ``Manana Syndrome.'' Raised among Sonora's ranching aristocracy (``By the time I was 14 I was busting broncos''), she shows how she came to immerse herself in her country's food traditions and--beginning with modest catering projects--soon found herself lionized in New York by the likes of Paul Prudhomme and Craig Claiborne. Her approach is not one of ethnic purity or ``authenticity'' understood narrowly; she blithely combines traditions from different regions within single recipes, ``my own personal process of mestizajesic , synthesis.'' And, indeed, she attributes the makings of her crab enchilada to a chef for a California restaurant chain. (Nov.)
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