Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Book Review

By Nancy Zaslavsky

JUNE 1, 1998: 


There is an economical alternative for travelers who are tantalized by the prospect of sampling authentic Mexican cuisine in local fondas and mercados without the benefit of high-priced instruction. After 25 years of visiting Mexico, California graphic artist and author Nancy Zaslavsky spent the entire year of 1993 touring regions of Mexico and gathering information on the best markets, outdoor food stalls, and home cooks. She shares all that valuable knowledge in A Cook's Tour of Mexico (St. Martin's Press, $27.50 hard). Zaslavsky can direct readers to the sites of ancient Aztec or Mayan markets in Mexico, still in the same locations where they've been for a thousand years, selling the same pre-Columbian items such as chiles, corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, peanuts, cocoa beans, pineapples, guavas, squashes, coconuts, prickly pears, and papayas. She also provides invaluable information about prepared regional dishes and the best places to find them in the central and southern areas of Mexico detailed in the book. Each chapter opens with a description of the region (Oaxaca, Veracruz, Michoacan, Mexico City, etc.), a rundown on the local markets, information on the native foods, drinks, and agricultural products, followed by listings of the most interesting places to go and things to eat. This is not a guidebook for folks who are looking for an Americanized visit to Mexico; it's a companion for intrepid culinary adventurers who are seeking the best native food Mexico has to offer. -- V.W.

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