Monday, October 12, 2009

Bayless v. Kennedy: The winner is. . .

The Bayless versus Kennedy competition? Bayless wins. But you already guessed that. I haven't done the tallies for all the individual books, and I'm not even sure Bayless will prevail in a by-the-numbers comparison, but the dread with which I came to approach the Diana Kennedy books can not be overemphasized. In the last week or so of this experiment I only wanted to cook from Bayless because he was friendly and encouraging and didn't bombard me with dishes calling for young iguana and a special mushroom that you can only get in late April in northern Chiapas when it's raining. I made that up, but it's a fair exaggeration.

I'm going to assess the cookbooks one by one and I'll only offer a review if I made ten recipes or more. Is that fair? Ten? Or should it be fifteen? 

Here's the first:
Mexico, One Plate at a Time
Rick Bayless

I made 16 dishes from this cookbook:

Worth the price of the book -- 0
Great -- 3
Good -- 10
So-so -- 3
Flat-out bad -- 0

Mexico, One Plate at a Time is a companion to Bayless's TV show, and the ratio of flowery preamble to recipe is definitely too high. On the other hand, there's a useful Q&A section attached to each category of dish and I learned a lot just reading these. I like this amiable, conversational and informative cookbook and will use it again. But I don't think it's as strong as Bayless's other books, and it isn't a shelf essential. 


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