One of my favorite heroes of Mexican cuisine in the cookbook author Diane Kennedy. She has been for many years a champion of the incredible diversity that is grown and cooked in Mexican kitchens. I first was introduced to her book, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, that is part cookbook, part homage, part anthropological wonder where she went and collected recipes from women's kitchens all over Mexico. By reputation she's tough, smart, and exacting in the kitchen, all things that I love. She seems like just the right person to begin a series of explorations into the food from places I go to.
Recently when interviewed by Saveur she said,"You know, the simplest food is a giveaway. The simpler dishes are much more difficult to come off right. And I think that those simpler dishes, if you haven't had a lot of experience or been brought up there, will often fail—or will not come up to scratch. It's a lack of experience."
Below is a recipe of a fall treat that I love.
Calabaza en Tacha
Señora Consuelo de Mendoza
There are many regional recipes for pumpkins cooked with raw sugar, either piloncilloin the form of cones, or panela, in thick rounds — the darker the color the richer the flavor.
- 1 medium pumpkin, about 5 pounds (2.5 kg)
- 8 cups (2L) water
- 1 1/2 pounds (675 g) piloncillo or panela, broken into small pieces, just under 4 cups (960 ml) or dark brown sugar
- 3 2-inch (5-cm) cinnamon sticks
Pierce the shell-like outer rind of the pumpkin in several places to enable the syrup to penetrate the flesh and cut into pieces about 3 inches (8 cm) square, leaving the fibrous flesh and seeds inside.
In a wide, heavy saucepan put enough water to completely cover the pumpkin. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Add the pieces of pumpkin and guavas and cook over fairly high heat, moving the pieces around from time to time to avoid sticking. Cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and continue cooking until the syrup has reduced and the flesh of the pumpkin is a rich brown.
from the Essential Cuisines of Mexico