Bayless cover

I bought Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico because it was the highest-rated Mexican cookbook on Amazon. It was part of an effort to build a great cookbook library and to create a food culture for my family. It was also to turn my wife, Reanna, on to Mexican food. I grew up in southern California and love Mexican food. She grew up in Vancouver, BC, and never developed a taste for it. My limited sampling of Canadian Mexican food made it clear why: It was not very good.

Because I imagined referring to this book for several decades, I almost bought the second-highest rated book because the cover was so much better, but I realized that both images were probably on dust covers, which I hate and throw away immediately. I stuck with the Bayless’s book.

I am so glad I did. Everything I’ve cooked out of this book so far has been very, very good. Surprisingly good. This food tastes like fine dining–nothing fast-food about it. My wife has had “food-gasms” on several occasions and agreed that we would have been happy to have paid top dollar at a restaurant for what we just ate.

I’m a good prep cook, an OK cook cook, and not much of a real chef. I love that I can follow these recipes exactly and produce inspiring food. I also believe that going through this book is teaching me how to cook. I’m learning the architecture of the cuisine–the staples, the flavors, the dishes, the variations. I can imagine eventually being able to stock our fridge intuitively and improvise great food from whatever we have. What more can you ask for in a cookbook?