Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Best Mexican in Miami...

Mexicans Cook
While thumbing through my newly purchased copy of 'Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico', a seminal work from 1978 by Diana Kennedy, it almost brought tears to my eyes when I realized that here was this magnificent lady, who was (and is) a champion of Mexican cuisine, (much as Julia Child was a promoter and interpreter of French cuisine for American cooks), who was so, not just ahead of her time, but who took a cuisine that was never thought to be on the level of anything European, and elevated it through her love and dedication to the status that it so richly deserves.
It is sad, that in 2007, people who consider themselves gourmets, or knowledgeable eaters, know very little about this cuisine, especially here in Hispanic Miami. It is an indifferent ignorance that states that somehow Mexicans could not have a varied and complex cuisine, in spite of the fact that their civilizations go back thousands of years, and their country's cuisine is as regionally diverse as our own. The title says it all-Regional Cooks. Not 'cuisines', because these great recipes are actually being cooked, right at this moment, all over Mexico. And if you are lucky, maybe even in your hometown, here in the States.
I like to do my own regional Mexican cooking, and while preparing my huitlacoche tacos the other night, I tried to recall where I had first eaten this delicious corn fungus. Most recently it had been in a quesadilla I ate at a little Mexican take-out place in Washington, DC, called Pepito's (not his real name), run by an actual Mexican guy who brought his recipes with him when he came to the US as a teenager from Mexico City.
But the first time was a little more elusive. I know it was during the early or mid-nineties. I was able to narrow it down to Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, Topolobampo in Chicago, or, most likely, Cafe Atlantico in DC. I was startled when I realized that these three places were all run by top chefs (Mark Miller, Rick Bayliss, and Jose Andres, respectively), all of whom are nationally and internationally recognized for their excellence and creativity. A humble ingredient, elevated to haute cuisine, by a talented cook-none of whom (like Diana Kennedy as well), are Mexican.
A tribute from some of the most acclaimed chefs of our time to a cuisine that is, perhaps, one of the most interesting and undiscovered treasures out there.

That being said, I direct you to Mi Rinconcito Mexicano...1961 SW 8th St. (Calle Ocho). The menu proclaims “Autentica Comida Mexicana”. And that, my friends, ain't no lie.