Diana Kennedy, author who birthed Mexican cuisine, has died aged 99

Diana Kennedy, the journalist and author who became the pre-eminent advocate of Mexican cuisine, died at her home in the state of Michoacán, the country’s ministry of culture said. she was 99

Her cause of death was respiratory failure, her friend and fellow chef Gabriela Cámara said, according to Yahoo News.

Kennedy is known for helping to separate Mexican food from the baked platters and yellow cheese menus of suburban restaurants by introducing it to a world of foodies that explores regional specialties and ingredient pedigrees.

“I think Mexico as a country will forever be indebted to their efforts,” said chef Pati Jinich PBS Food Show “Pati’s Mexican Table” said in Elizabeth Carroll’s 2019 documentary about Kennedy: “Nothing special.”

For an English-speaking author, she had the vast pantheon of Mexican cuisine, with its earthy native roots, fatty Spanish meats, French and Austrian haute moments, and regional sauces and salsas, all to herself, and her cookbooks never seemed to be short of inspiration.

From her base in Coatepec de Morelos, a village near the town of Zitácuaro, British-born Kennedy, often in her pickup truck, explored and discovered food in the heart of her adopted homeland well into her 90s.

Diana Kennedy
Diana Kennedy shops at a market in Zitácuaro, Michoacan, Mexico on June 23, 1990.Paul Harris / Getty Images file

She didn’t duck, and her comfort zone was everything. That Los Angeles Timeswho argued that Kennedy had done for Mexican cuisine what Julia Child had done for French cuisine, noting that she had published recipes for dishes including duck in pumpkin seed mole, cream of pumpkin soup, tartlets stuffed with a mash of waterfly eggs, and stews from black iguana.

But while proving the maxim that Mexico is a continental and global hub that absorbs, embraces, remixes and refines influences from across the Atlantic and Pacific (yes, that’s a thin slice of pineapple in your traditional Lebanese taco) , Kennedy has never emerged to be haughty.

The titles of your books tell the story of the kitchen. It may be vast (“The Cuisines of Mexico,” 1972), and it may encompass coasts, deserts, valleys, and mountains (“Mexican Regional Cooking,” 1975), but it’s not really meant for white-glove service (“ Nothing Fancy: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food, first published in 1984 and expanded and reissued in 2016—her last title).

According to her official biography, Kennedy first landed in Mexico from her native England in the 1950s when she was busy travelling. She met future husband Paul Kennedy, a New York Times correspondent in Mexico City, and moved there after their marriage.

It wasn’t until the early 1970s, after Paul Kennedy died of cancer, that she focused on documenting Mexican cuisine as a life’s work. She had dinner with New York Times restaurant critic Craig Claiborne, who suggested that she teach Mexican cooking.

She taught on The Cuisines of Mexico. Claiborne wrote the forward. But mostly she studied.

As she embedded herself beyond the cultural motherland, Kennedy learned not to sow her serrano peppers, and She castigated those who dared put lime juice and garlic in guacamole.

In a review of My Mexico published in late 1998 Los Angeles Times wrote: “She has not so much rejoiced in terrible roads, unfavorable weather and unforeseen obstacles as she has rejoiced in the process of discovering something she would not otherwise have understood.”

Kennedy’s letter expresses a “feral desire to explore, unveil and preserve,” the newspaper said.

Her residence in Coatepec de Morelos has often been described as a sustainable showcase of culinary culture with acres of gardens. She collected rainwater and showered for 2 minutes.

The Ministry of Culture tweeted Sunday said her home, which she called La Quinta Diana, was “an example of sustainability and conservation of nature and biodiversity.”

Gourmet magazine described Kennedy’s garden as a “botanical treasure trove.” Her homegrown avocados had skin so thin and tender that it could be seamlessly mashed into her guacamole, the 2011 publication says.The Gastronomica reader“:

“Her Mexican home, designed by local architect Armando Cuevas as an eco-efficient building, is tucked away behind a thicket of vines and trees on a hillside above San Francisco’s Coatepec de Morelos.”

Her residence also served as the non-profit Diana Kennedy Center dedicated to the education and preservation of Mexican cuisine.

Kennedy lived a life of constant discovery, even at home. In an updated version of “The cuisine of MexicoShe wrote, “People who live in harsher climates tend to think there are no seasons here in the 5,900-foot semi-tropics. Yes, there is no snow and only very occasionally frost or a short, gusty hailstorm. January is a bleak month, cool and sunny, and if we agree with the gods, the first few days of February bring welcome rains, cabañuelas, which encourage the plums and peaches to bloom and help replenish tanks for the hot, dry months ahead.”

Kennedy’s accomplishments include an award from the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2014, the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle in 1982, and recognition as a member of the Order of the British Empire for strengthening cultural ties with Mexico in 2002.

Her official biography also expresses pride in an achievement she is not officially credited with: UNESCO designating Mexican cuisine as a Global Cultural Treasure in 2010, the year that UNESCO gave equal recognition to French food.

“Over the course of nearly sixty years, Diana traversed the country meticulously researching, documenting, and mastering the culinary styles of each region,” her biography reads. “Now these traditions will be jointly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.”

Kennedy’s sophisticated work on Mexico, including eight books and a few updated editions, will resonate years after this lime-infused guacamole turns brown.

Your voice will continue to impart wisdom.

“It is so delicate that it is best eaten immediately after preparation,” Kennedy writes of guacamole in The Cuisines of Mexico. “There are many suggestions for storage — cover airtight, leave the core in, and so on — but they only help for a short while; almost immediately the delicate green gets darker and the fresh, wonderful flavor is lost.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/mexico/diana-kennedy-author-elevated-cuisine-mexico-dead-99-rcna39768 Diana Kennedy, author who birthed Mexican cuisine, has died aged 99

Fry Electronics Team

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