There are more traditionally authentic Mexican cookbooks out there by authors who have travelled up mountains and down valleys to gather local recipes or by chefs who’ve hovered in kitchens, recording every step and stir.
But this book has an authenticity of its own—an emotional authenticity. It started as a sketch project for Australian illustrator Germain, to recall visits to her mother’s Mexican family. From the endpapers of replicating molinillos to watercolor washes of raw ingredients and finished dishes, the drawings are innocent reflections of childhood meals at grandmother’s table.
Those ingredients and recipes are simple and familiar. Cumin, paprika, and cloves are in nearly every pantry, and annatto, chilis, and canela are easy to find. The dishes are the very definition of comfort food. You can see grandmother whipping up Pambacitos for a batch of noisy grandchildren—little rolls stuffed with sautéed chorizo, potatoes, and cheese. There are all manner of enchiladas, churros to munch with Mexican hot chocolate, and an blanket-cozy bread pudding studded with raisins and spiced with cinnamon.
Germain starts you off with the basics. Once you set up red, green, chipotle, picada, and bean sauces, which are very easy to make in the indispensable blender, you’ll be ready to go on most of the recipes. Next step, stock up tortillas, or better yet make your own. In the tortilla-related recipes, Germain’s drawings take on real usefulness, with friendly directions on how to make fresh tortillas and then fold them into enchiladas, tamales, and picadas. With these few simple steps, all your dishes from Pollo a la Naranja, Lomo Almendrado, or Fish Veracruz style take on the flavors of abuela’s table.