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Tales of a Cookbook Writer: What if a Dish Makes Me Gag?

Hi Ocean: The difference between pancita and menudo, from what I've gathered, is that menudo contains hominy. Pancita doesn't. (Pancita is just tripe and broth.) Pancita is also traditionally red, because of the dried chiles you add to the broth base. Menudo can be white or red, depending on where in Mexico you're eating it. And thanks for the kind words about the article.

Tales of a Cookbook Writer: What if a Dish Makes Me Gag?

@ExNYerinSF: Thanks for the suggestion -- I think you're right. Really the only difference between "authentic" and "modified" is the vinegar-salt slurry, but I can definitely explain that, and some of the differences between the types of tripe available in the US in the headnote.

Tales of a Cookbook Writer: What if a Dish Makes Me Gag?

@Xianhang Zhang: You have a point. It's interesting, though -- the more I work on the cookbook, the more I realize that my goal is not necessarily to present the most "authentic" version of the dish. What does authentic mean when you have dozens of Mexican cooks preparing the same dish in different ways every day? I have to choose the dish that I think tastes the best or is the most interesting. At the end of the day, each recipe is filtered through my own personal perspective.

My real goal here is to have people read the recipes and think, "I can cook this." In this case, I think that means offering both options, strong-offal-tasting and less-strong offal-tasting, as ExNYerin SF said.

I'm Writing a Cookbook. Now What?

Ocean, the chiles in particular taste very different. The poblanos I've found in NYC, by and large, are sort of muted and wimpy, and the serranos sometimes aren't hot at all. (Which is weird.) Dried chiles I've had a tough time with, too. The ones I bring back from Mexico, in a side-by-side comparison with the ones I buy locally in NYC, smell better, look better, and are more flavorful and complex than their American counterparts. (I bought a bag of chiles in Queens last week and discovered upon further inspection that nearly 1/3 of the chiles in the bag were moldy. WTF?) I'm not saying great dried chiles don't exist in the USA, just that the ones I buy in NYC -- the ones I in particular have access to -- are not as good as what I buy in DF. It could be a whole different story in Los Angeles or Chicago, for all I know. But I'm testing the book here, not there.

I'm Writing a Cookbook. Now What?

krose87: Thank you! I'm not completely sick of Mexican food, but generally I don't want to eat tacos or enchiladas anymore. (Or mole.) Unless I'm traveling in Mexico -- in that case I want to eat as much as I can. Lately I'm craving salads and Mediterranean food. And I always will find room for Thai food.

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