Week 5: Encarnacion’s Kitchen

This reading put a really interesting spotlight on the interconnectivity of food and culture. When I saw that we were reading about a cookbook, I didn’t expect such a thorough historical and cultural analysis of the author, her family, and the tumultuous period they lived in. Context gave greater meaning to Pinedo Encarnacion’s claim that “there is not a single Englishman who can cook.” It was also interesting to read about how her cookbook was a reflection of the end of the mixed, loosely defined ethnic groups that lived together, spoke the same languages, and ate the same food. As the English began destroying their way of life, hard lines were drawn between people with different skin tones. Pinedo purposefully traced her recipes to Mexican origins as an assertion of her own identity.  In this way, she was also preserving her culture for her nieces through food, though still updating her recipes to the modern era. In the excerpt from the cookbook, she included instructions for cooking in a stove rather than over a fire as might have been more traditional. Instead of saying “cook in the usual way” as many authors of cookbooks did, she outlined how to cook each dish. She also gave directions for which recipes belonged together and what foods were meant to accompany each other. Her command of many types of cuisine and ability to blend them together was very cool to read about.

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