cover image Flavors of Mexico

Flavors of Mexico

Marlena Spieler. McGraw-Hill/Contemporary, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-929923-66-6

Spieler, the author of several other Mexican cookbooks, is frankly besotted with South-of-the-border cuisine and culture; her preferences are here well represented. She has compiled a soup-to-nuts book with recipes for everything from appetizers to atoles, drinks made from corn and sometimes flavored with fruit. (She even includes instructions for the proper downing of tequila.) While Mexican cookery is too broad and varied to be covered fully in one volume, as Spieler notes, she does an admirable job of combing the country's regions in search of what is good. The book is laced with information about the evolution of Mexican food and the influence of Aztec and Spanish cultures on it. For those who believe that Mexican dishes consist of just tacos, the recipes will come as a pleasant surprise. The majority use vegetables and grains and rely on a rich, multilayered blend of spices, tastes and textures. Dishes like tomato-potato soup, grilled lobster with refried beans, and red chili-seasoned duck roasted with oranges and mint will tempt even the jaded. Spieler also makes suggestions for accompaniments and provides a mail-order list for specialty ingredients. (Jan.)