San Antonio, Texas - Mexico's markets are a legendary way to take in the country's food and culture. The sweet smoky aroma of tortillas cooking over a fire. Freshly pounded moles piled in an exotic rainbow of colors. The swirl of humanity picking out meat, seafood, produce and spices for the day's meal.
But with the U.S.-Mexico border closed to non-essential travel and all of us staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that summer trip to visit the bountiful stalls in Oaxaca, Jalisco or Veracruz may have to wait awhile.
Fortunately, there's a way to take all of that splendor in without leaving the house.
Chef, instructor, ravenous researcher and author David Sterling won two James Beard awards for his 2014 cookbook "Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition." His second title, "Mercados: Recipes from the Markets of Mexico," was posthumously released in 2019 after Sterling's 2016 death, and it deserves a spot on your coffee table or kitchen counter.
This 560-page behemoth is equal parts tour guide and recipe collection. Lush photography throughout - there are nearly 600 images crammed between the covers - takes the mind to markets large and small throughout Mexico. Even if you have never picked up a knife or pan, it's an educational journey anyone can appreciate.
For the cooks, Sterling laid out more than 100 recipes for dishes both familiar and virtually unknown outside their tiny corner of the country. And while some of the dishes are less well known, San Antonians won't have trouble finding most of the ingredients used in those recipes in Mexican grocery stores across the city.
This one deserves a place in your permanent cookbook collection. Look for "Mercados: Recipes from the Markets of Mexico" (University of Texas Press, $60 USD) everywhere books are sold.
Read the original Express News article written by Paul Stephen, a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area.