Thursday, March 27, 2008
Possums, we feel both a migraine and a rant coming on, but for the time being we will limit ourselves to contrasting Erik Hopfinger’s illogical, condescending, paternalistic, patronizing, and quasi-racist statement (which we will break down later, have no fear) with excerpts from Richard Condon’s (yes, as in The Manchurian Candidate and Prizzi’s Honor) The Mexican Stove, a cookbook published in 1973 (just a year after Diana Kennedy’s seminal The Cuisines of Mexico), and which has one of the greatest subtitles of any culinary book, “Sensual and Evocative Notes on the World’s Oldest Cuisine Together with Matchless Methods for Cooking and Eating Such Timelessness and Including the Oldest Surviving Evolved Recipe for Cooked Food of Any Cooking System of Any of the Ancient Civilizations of the World and the Greatest All-Purpose Sauce in History.”
“Mexican food is about the people, and it’s about the streets, and it’s a soulful kind of a thing, and to put fine dining in it, it just, it just kind of bugs me….I don’t think fine dining and Mexican go together, so [Rick Bayless] can go screw himself.”
“…in the instance of the most exalted food ever to appear in the Western Hemisphere, the food whose raw materials became the parents of all European cooking, it becomes evident, when the glorious plunge is taken, that to cook and eat Mexican food is to celebrate sensuality in every great chamber of this textured, perfumed, delicious, beautiful and memorable gastronomic antiquity.
Mexican food is an aphrodisiac which excites the passion for living. It courts, seduces, ravishes, then cherishes all five senses (as well as the sense of most worthy accomplishment) by treating each as if it existed alone, as if all satisfaction were dependent upon this one sense, while it orchestrates all five into complex permutations of sensation….
In terms of fuel into energy, chemicals, lubricants, and stimulants, Mexican food is incomparable because it is lighter, more natural, less fatty, and least 11° warmer inside. Furthermore, as a producer of joy and well-being only Chinese cuisine can surpass it and only the French can equal it….
[E]ach dish prepared under Mexican food systems is multileveled and richly dimensional. It is thermally rich. It is scented. Its grasp of glossal tactility is uncanny and exciting as it composes dishes of food to relate the textures of the rough, the slippery, the chewy, and the unctuous simultaneously while it contrasts the hot, the bland, and the piquant with sweet, sour, and salt tastes and as it relates the readily combined flavors of meat, fruit, and vegetables with an astonishing range of sauces. However, because it is high cooking, it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare….
There are yahoos who would disagree that there are only three basic, wholly developed systems of cooking in the world: the Indian/Chinese, the Mexican, and the French, and that all other cooking systems evolved from these or are dependent on these….
Then what is a ‘cuisine’? If a cannibal boils a missionary and his wife, that is not cuisine. But if he adds a touch of oregano and two onions, he has made step one.”