As you probably know by now, the fiery abuela of Mexican cuisine Diana Kennedy died earlier this week at the age of 99. Diana opened a window into the soul of Mexico and gave voice to many Mexican cooks, especially women. She was an amazing example of determination, creativity, and independence...leading the way for us all to understand the richness and complexity of Mexican cooking from across all the beautiful and diverse regions of the country.
Diana loved Mexico, Mexicans, and Mexican cooking. In all of her books, from her first, “The Cuisines of Mexico” in 1972, to “Nothing Fancy: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food” in 1984, “From My Mexican Kitchen — Techniques and Ingredients” in 2003, “Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy” in 2010, and many more.
In 2020, I was honored to be interviewed for the documentary, “Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy,” directed by Elizabeth Carroll, where we saw how much attention she paid to the smallest details of a recipe and to the Mexican culture that she loved as her own.
On a more personal note, Diana Kennedy has been so important to me and my cooking, particularly in helping to develop my Mexican restaurant, Oyamel…not just the menu, but the entire restaurant as a living, breathing tribute to Mexico's regional cooking and to Diana's culinary anthropology.
To me, Diana was the Indiana Jones of food, always searching for that diamond, that treasure, for the true soul and history of Mexican food, and she would not stop until she would find it. When she did, she would write pages and pages about it and share it with the rest of the world so no one would ever forget it.
Diana, you were my teacher, and I already miss you! We will cook together one day again!
If you have a memory of Diana to share with us, please add it to the discussion. Tell me about what you learned from her, which of her recipes you will cook to remember her, or what she meant to you.
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