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Cookbook Watch

November 11, 1998|LAURIE OCHOA

Diana Kennedy knows that great cookbooks are about much more than recipes. They are a form of storytelling about people, about places, about relationships and about the sensual pleasures of eating and cooking with other people. You not only get the benefit of rigorously tested recipes in Kennedy's books, you also get tales of this stubborn, funny, smart British woman dedicated to Mexican cuisine, Kennedy herself. Her newest book, "My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey With More Than 300 Recipes" (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), takes the reader on a very personal tour of Mexico's regions and incidentally of her own life in Mexico. In all of Kennedy's books, attention is paid to regional food; in this installment, we find a more mellow Kennedy who has reconsidered some--but certainly not all--of her earlier strong opinions about what is and isn't Mexican. The recipes are designed to include something for everyone, from tamales de espiga (the pollen sacs of male corn flowers) that only dedicated Kennedy cooks will make to an easy Jerez-style guacamole with poblano and Anaheim chiles, tomatillos and sour cream, a shock for those who have read Kennedy's earlier thoughts on cream in guacamole. "Well," Kennedy writes in the headnote, "at least it doesn't have garlic and lime juice."

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