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Anytime I get the idea that I know something about Mexican food I can crack open one of Diana Kennedy's books and quickly realize how little that is. The 87-year-old British-born food writer has spent more than a half century fully immersed in Mexican cuisine, scouring the country for authentic regional recipes and techniques and recording them for posterity in eight scholarly, vividly written cookbooks.
Her latest, Oaxaca al Gusto, An Infinite Gastronomy—which took some 16 years to bring to life—is destined to join The Cuisines of Mexico and The Art of Mexican Cooking as a classic. It's a 6.2-pound, 459-page exhaustive tour of the southern state, home to the country's most diverse and interesting cuisine, featuring recipes as iconic as yellow mole and albondigas and as regionally specific as palm buds and eggs and wasp's nest salsa. Unlike her other books, this one has huge, gorgeous photographs on almost every page.
Kennedy lives in rural Michoacán, and doesn't make it north of the border too often, so if you have more than a passing interest in Mexican food you don't want to miss one of two appearances early next week. On Monday she'll be at the Merchandise Mart Chopping Block, doing a cooking demo, slide show, and Q&A. $65 gets you a signed copy of the new book and taste of what she's making.