Encarnacion’s Kitchen

Wow, this one made me hungry! I love hearing about food history. The printing press really was a miracle for preserving recipes, as previously you had more of an oral tradition of passing things on, or only having fragile hand-written notes to preserve (which is difficult if you keep them close at hand in a messy kitchen). There’s especially a dearth (at least in the United States’ history) of non-Anglo cooks, too. At the same time that Encarnacion’s book was publish, most cultured cuisine was coming from French inspiration or Easter European traditions, so that is what was spread Westward with colonizers. I found Encarnacion’s story so fascinating. Her class and social status was a major contributing factor to her being able to publish her recipe collection at all, as if she were in a lower class ranking she probably wouldn’t have had the fiscal or social capital to get a publisher to take her manuscript on.

I found the self-identification of Spanish versus Mexican from people in California to be particularly interesting. It denotes, again, certain ideas of class and social status, racism, and segregation of identities even within mixed cultures or mixed-race peoples’ lived experiences. So fascinating to read more about this. I wish there were more culture guides for Californio etiquette from the time a la Emily Post or Amy Vanderbilt. So much of history is whitewashed, eternally frustrating.

I also really enjoyed reading the recipes– it made me really want to make my own tortillas again…I think I have some masa flour somewhere, so I should probably get on that. Fascinating also to see the inclusion of imported ingredients, again a class marker as the author must have had access to these ingredients. Things like French olives or saffron, or references to having an ice-cream freezer.

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