Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday

I love the rich, warm flavors of Mexican food, but trying to create anything more than a simple, kid-pleasing taco or Sundays at Moosewood’s tortilla casserole (a family favorite) has left me uncertain as to how to begin. With so many exotic-to-me ingredients, whom should I trust to lead me down the path to excellent, easy yet authentic-tasting Mexican food? Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless and his wife Deann Groen Bayless, has what I need to satisfy my desire to create more Imaginative Mexican dishes without going crazy with lengthy, detailed preparations or impossible-to-find ingredients. 

Rick Bayless, winner of many awards including the first Top Chef Masters competition, owns several restaurants, has written numerous cookbooks, and is widely-heralded as the American master of Mexican cuisine. Bayless’ background in anthropology serves him well as he respectfully presents not just the traditional ingredients but also the traditions behind those ingredients. This book is the companion volume to the fourth season of his PBS series, Mexico: One Plate at a Time.
 
Although these dishes are based on classic recipes, most have been slimmed down for modern diet and time constraints. Bayless begins by giving the theory behind the book. Mexican food is about both feast day and everyday fare. Feast day food is luscious, time-consuming, and highly caloric. Everyday means something a tired cook can put together relatively quickly with a few simple ingredients while not relying on too much fat to bring out the flavor.
 
While there are not dozens and dozens of recipes here, those Rick and Deann have chosen are carefully selected and beautifully described and photographed. I want to try them all, but I think I’ll begin with their take on a classic tortilla soup, with all the trimmings, or perhaps Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos.