Pati Jinich launched her latest book “Mexican Today” on May 25, 2016 at the Mexican Cultural Institute in New York City.
Ms. Jinich hosted a panel discussion and food tasting with New York-based Mexican chefs Barbara Sibley and Roberto Santibáñez. Barbara is a specialist in historic Mexican recipes who runs La Palapa in NYC’s East Village. Roberto Santibáñez is a Mexican chef with French training at Le Cordon Blue in Paris. He runs Fonda restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Pati opened the conversation by asking Roberto and Barbara what it is like being a Mexican chef today. Roberto made the point that, “There is not one Mexico. We are many regional cuisines. That is what makes Mexican cooking so interesting.” Barbara added that, “It’s an exciting time to be a Mexican chef because the cuisine is now widely recognized.”
Barbara spoke about the uniqueness of the Mexican palette. Ingredients alone don’t make Mexican cooking. There are bright contrasts in flavors that make a dish Mexican. Pati added that, “It’s such a strong mother food that it absorbs every outside influence. Robert explained that, “We use ketchup, but then we squeeze three limes over it.”
Pati asked the panel what obstacles they experience being a Mexican chef. Both Barbara and Roberto answered that sometimes people think that we and our food are not Mexican. It’s a modern paradox that one can be completely American and completely Mexican at the same time without diminishing either heritage in the least. The chefs pointed out that corn, tomatoes, chocolate, and vanilla are all Mexican ingredients.
About Pati Jinich
Pati Jinich is a television host, cookbook author, and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. She was born and raised in Mexico. Ms. Jinich hosts the national PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table, now in its fifth season.
In a way that is true to the spirit of Mexican cuisine, Pati Jinich takes a holistic approach to cooking. Her style embraces tradition, fusion, and the practicalities of the modern family kitchen.
Pati’s manner is a bit like the cool aunt you want to spend time with because you know it will be fun and filling.
“Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) is Ms. Jinich’s second cookbook. Her first was “Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking” (2013).
Ms. Jinich explained the difference between the cookbooks. This book is very different. The first book was about very traditional Mexican cuisine. In “Mexican Today,” we still do things that are Mexican, but we play a little.
“Mexican Today” is a beautiful contemporary cookbook with mouth-watering photographs by Ellen Silverman. Pati’s playfulness gives us Mexican hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and gravlax sandwiches. These are not traditional Mexican foods, but the palette of flavors makes them Mexican. Pati’s recipe for Mexican Dreamboat Hot Dogs is based on hot dogs from a roadside stand she used to visit as a girl on her way home from school.
Pati brings the cookbook to life with stories about the regional origins of recipes and her own inspirations. The recipes explain how to prepare dishes the traditional way or with substitutes that are easier to find in modern American kitchens.
Spending a few minutes with Pati Jinich’s “Mexican Today” is sure to send you to the kitchen or the table hungry with inspiration. Let’s eat!