"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo

This book is one of the most beat up and beloved books in my collection. As a huge fan of Frida Kahlo as well as a cook who’s earliest and fondest memories were of being in the kitchen with my grandmother Lupe Camarillo, this is a treasure. I actually have two copies, one I keep in my kitchen and refer to it often and one that I keep safely stowed away and protected.

Frida’s Fiestas is written by Guadalupe Rivera, daughter of Diego Rivera and Lupe Marin. The book is filled with wonderful, full color photographs of La Casa Azul, Frida’s kitchen, Frida and Diego and food, glorious, astounding Mexican food.

Many of these recipes I grew up eating and hearing stories about why they were made on certain days like the red, white and green rice for September 16th. When I found this book, it was like being in the kitchen with my grandmother all over again and I delighted in taking the time required to build the slow and savory flavors. The book has traditional Oaxacan Black Mole, treats like chiles rellenos en nogada and the oyster soup I made for my son’s wedding dinner.

Through all the photos and recipes are Guadalupe Rivera’s memories of her times with Frida and Diego and of the meals and fiestas that were celebrated. She replicates the tables that Frida took so much care in preparing, sugar skulls for Dia de los muertos, little cut paper flags for Mexican Independence day.

To look at the photos of guayabas poached in syrup or the little clay cups filled with shrimp broth reminds me of the smells in my grandmother’s kitchen and gets me wanting to cook. You can almost smell the chiles and rich spices, almost taste the frijoles borrachos. This is more than a cookbook, it is redolent with scents, flavors and that most entrancing aroma – memories of a life well lived.

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