Encarnacion’s Kitchen

Published in 1898 in San Francisco, Encarnacion Pinedo’s cookbook, El Cocinero Espanol, was California’s first and most extensive Spanish language cookbook. Although her book is filled with 19th century Mexican recipes with European influences, this cookbook also serves as a memoir and biography. Pinedo lived through an era of Anglo colonization which attempted to minimize her family’s Californio cultural heritage. The cookbook’s recipes reflect Pinedo’s childhood memories and acts as a guide for her to pass her knowledge along to her nieces who were growing up in Anglo household. Authors Victor Valle and Dan Strehl elaborate on Pinedo’s family history and the social and political uprising that the family faced during and after the Yankee colonization so readers can better understand what makes this cookbook so significant. By calling her book “Spanish,” she was likely elevating her status, which at the time was a more respected ethnicity by the colonists than “Mestizo.” Many of the recipes Pinedo includes in her book are traditional Mexican foods but adapted to local ingredients and are given Spanish-sounding names. Despite concealing her Mexican-American identity by emphasizing her Spanish heritage, Pinedo asserts her culture in this book and by doing so, protects her family’s heritage from being forgotten.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *