El cocinero español is a historically and culinarily significant work written by Encarnación Pinedo in 1898. This work is of importance because she was a hispanic woman who published after the conquest of Alta California. This book provided recipes while also identifying how her family dined and reimagining cultural identities. Through the use of ingredients and explanation of how to use them in the recipes Pinedo connects her past life to the present, and allows her culture to live on despite the rapid decline post conquest. The author states that Pinedo’s recipes “allowed her to recover some of her families former dignity” and the cookbook itself stands as a testimony of a lost culture.
The book itself is a significant piece of food history because it is the first fusion of Mexican and Californian culinary publishing. In addition, it’s significant because there were no other books printed that contained such a large number of Mexican recipes. At the beginning of the 20th American publications began to focus on Mexican cooking, but they were produced by Anglos, which distinguished these from Pinedos work.
Within the book are recipes of wide variety that have Hispanic, French, and Italian roots in addition to recipes of her own creation. These recipes also involved the use of newfound technology within the kitchen such as the stove and more complex mills. She also involves foods of the time such as selections of preserves, jams, and syrups (lemon, blackberry, almond, and raspberry). The recipes are tailored toward Mexican cuisine, but are also adapted to local ingredients, many of which are not commonly available today. Overall, her book serves as one of the most complete and balanced Mexican cookbooks published in California, and is evident of a major culinary production.