New Pandemic Cooking Craze - Cocinando en los Tiempos del Coronavirus
July 31, 2020 8:53 AM   Subscribe

The University of San Antonio Texas Libraries Special Collections is curating a special collection of historic Mexican recipes as free e-books. This will be a three volume endeavor and they've saved the best for first - Postres (Desserts).

The UTSA Libraries has a collection of over 2000 historic Mexican cookbooks. The oldest cookbook dates back to 1789, but they also have promotional cookbooks by companies like Pace, vegetarian cookbooks, and many handwritten manuscripts. These "priceless folios filled with handwritten recipes intended for personal, not public, use. Some pages bear cooking stains, marginal notes, and doodles that transport us to the kitchen." And last year they acquired legendary cook Diana Kennedy's collection of rare cookbooks.

This collection is more than just great recipes, it also provides a view into history describing the exchanges between European colonizers and the Indigenous peoples.
posted by brookeb (10 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Some pages bear cooking stains, marginal notes, and doodles that transport us to the kitchen.

That's how you know those are going to be the best recipes!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:59 AM on July 31, 2020 [8 favorites]

Fun cookbook! I like how simple the first few recipes are, particularly the baked bananas. I'd expected some cinnamon or something; nope! The Quinceañera cake is appropriately complex though. Also at 105 eggs it's not exactly a weekday evening recipe.

Not strictly Mexican and not a free book, but I recently got a copy of Fabiola Cabeza de Vaca Gilbert's classic cookbook Historic Cookery: Authentic New Mexican Food. The recipes date back to 1931 and they are also very spare. Huevos rancheros, for instance: "Break eggs. Drop into fat; cover and cook slowly until white is done. Serve on plate and pour hot chile sauce over them". Honestly surprised at the lack of tortilla! But also a modern recipe would gussy this up with beans, herbs, cotija, sour cream, ... all good stuff, but this 1931 cookbook was much more nuts and bolts. Honestly it's not much fun to cook from, but it's a nice record of a cuisine in a time.
posted by Nelson at 10:07 AM on July 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

There's a typo in the openculture translation of the series title that made it into the title of this post: it should be cocinando and not cocindando.
posted by jomato at 10:20 AM on July 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mind your peas ... and pass the historic muffins.

Another academic library experiments with cooking during Covid with "how-to" videos: peas from Gegor Mendel and Chicago Ledger Fruit Muffins.
posted by mfoight at 10:21 AM on July 31, 2020

Honestly surprised at the lack of tortilla!

It also doesn't say "serve with a fork."
posted by darksasami at 10:28 AM on July 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

Its funny. None of the buñuelos recipes look like the ones I grew up with. The reason seems to be is that I was eating Buñuelos, Michoacan-style!

So, in Michoacan, not only do you make buñuelos - a crispy, fried pastry with sugar and cinammon - you then take the additional step of completely crushing your pastry into pieces in a copper pan and sink them into hot molasses. Pull them out and then eat the hot, sugary, dripping things. Yep, thats how we do it in Michoacan.
posted by vacapinta at 10:30 AM on July 31, 2020 [12 favorites]

Are some steps missing in the orange and lime ice entry?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:05 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been watching Youtubery of Michoacan grandma cooking, De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina (Sample: ) She is clear and easy to follow and I can practice my spanish while watching. Two thumbs up.
posted by which_chick at 6:42 PM on July 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

My grandmother took her mother's second-hand copy of Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes (complete with crayon on the cover done by either my grandmother or my great-aunt), took it out of its binding, carefully put each page into a plastic folder, put it all into a three-ring binder, and sent it to me when I moved to the UK, because she knew I wouldn't have the same range of ready-made ingredients to make Mexican food.

I occasionally think I should make more recipes from it, but then I come across ones like this:
Ensalada de Aguacate
Mexican Avocado Salad

3 avocados
1 cup pineapple cubes
2 oranges, peeled and cut into pieces
French dressing
Fresh mint

Cut avocados in half lengthwise, and scoop out pulp with a French ball cutter. Save shells. Combine avocado balls with other fruit, and marinate in French dressing about 20 minutes. Fill avocado shells and serve on lettuce. Garnish with mint. Serves 6.
And you know what? I'm good, thank you.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:39 AM on August 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

Are some steps missing in the orange and lime ice entry?
"The rest of the recipe is trivial, and is left as an exercise to the reader."
posted by xedrik at 8:51 AM on August 2, 2020

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