by Diane Soliz-Martese
1992 Wei-Chuan Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0941676298
I have to say that I bought this book on something of a whim. I don’t eat Mexican food very often and my library only contains 5 other volumes devoted to the cuisine. However, I really like the Wei-Chuan series of cookery books and I was curious to see how a Chinese Publisher might handle the subject. As it happens, though, I was ultimately disappointed with this publication on a couple of counts…
Content and Organization
As regards basic range of content, this book compares reasonably favorably with similar volumes. It contains just over 100 recipes organized into 12 main categories and the first dozen entries are for useful basic preparations such as tortillas, sauces, shredded beef and pork, and chorizo. The recipes are all illustrated and the book is well indexed.
Unlike other Wei-Chuan publications, this volume is not printed in Chinese as well as English, although it does have Spanish text included, suggesting that this publication was never intended for a Chinese readership as others clearly seem to be. The author, Diane Soliz-Martese, is of Mexican heritage, which rather disappointed me, I have to say. She obviously gives us recipes that have some degree of ‘authenticity’ but as I was actually more interested in seeing what interpretations a Chinese chef might have put on the various Mexican dishes presented.
While there is a good number of recipes in the book, the selection is not terribly good. Quite a few favorites are represented, Huevos Rancheros and Arroz con Pollo, for example, but the bulk seem to be more of the ‘Tex-Mex’ variety rather than classically Mexican, and there is also a surprising dearth of decent salsa recipes. There are a few generic ones included in the sauce section at the beginning, but none of the classics such as ‘Pico de Gallo’ are included. The recipes that have been provided are straightforward and easy to follow but, ultimately they are a bit too simple. There are none of the interesting blends of chili peppers that make for good quality Mexican dishes and quite a few, like Chili Colorado and Pollo en Mole, to name a couple, are so oversimplified as to make them number amongst the most unappetizing, and least interesting, I have come across.
This is not, I suppose, the worst Mexican cookery book I have ever seen but, by the same token, it is far from being one of the good ones. There are a couple of dishes that are moderately interesting but very little otherwise to warrant a good recommendation.