Arriba! This Mexican best-seller is now in English
And René Redzepi has written the foreword for Tacopedia - everything you ever wanted to know about the taco
All gourmands know by now that Mexican cuisine is fast becoming one of the most influential styles in contemporary cookery. Yet how does the uninitiated food lover gain an understanding of, and love for, the food of this nation? Through the taco: a single, simple dish, that can be prepared in hundreds of ways, that's how.
Five years in the making, Tacopedia was a huge hit when it was first published, in Spanish, in 2013. The book not only features 100 recipes covering all the components of this amazing dish – from the tortilla, to the filling and sauces – it also covers the development of this humble foodstuff, its regional variations, and even its cultural significance. There are interviews, illustrations, graphic guides and maps, each shading in a further detail of the unexpectedly fascinating story behind the taco.
The book has proved to be a gastronomic best-seller, winning over both a Latin American audience and polyglot readers keen to learn more about Mexico's secrets. In 2013 it was awarded the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Cookbook in Latin America, with Gourmand president Edouard Cointreau characterising Tacopedia as “one of Mexico's culinary treasures.”
The title captures some of the food world's new-found interest in Mexican cuisine, as demonstrated by the success of chefs like Enrique Olvera, Noma's Rene Redzepi – a huge Mexican food fan and author of this book's introduction – as well as the continued success of previous Phaidon titles such as Mexico and Peru: The Cookbook.
Packed with detailed illustrations, beautifully observed photographs and clear instructions, all arranged in a charming Mesoamerican-style design, the beauty of this book lies in the minutiae. There's an illustrated guide to geographic specialities, from Sonora to Chiapas; many butchers' charts, indicating, for example, which cuts of pork make it into a carnitas taco, and which end up in tacos al pastor; a flow diagram following maize use in Mexican cuisine; and even a users guide to taco-stand etiquette.
The title serves as a perfect complement to such national cuisine guides as Mexico, India and The Silver Spoon. It's as practical and easy to use as popular kitchen books like What to Cook and How to Cook It. Meanwhile, in depth of knowledge, it is akin to Where Chefs Eat and elBulli 2005-2011. No mean feat as buyers of those books will attest.
On the counter top it initiates non-Spanish speakers into a hitherto unknown realm of gastronomic pleasure; on the sofa it serves as a great curl-up read; and on the bookshelf it suggests a highbrow understanding of this quotidian street food.
Authors Déborah holtz, director of Trilce Ediciones in Mexico City, and Juan Carlos Mena of the Universidad Iberoamericana, devoted half a decade to a dish that's often gulped down in a few minutes. Yet in so doing they demonstrate just how rich – culturally and gastronomically – a taco can be. You can pre-order Tacopedia here, and check back soon for more on this exciting new title.