Historic Mexican Recipes Are Now Available as Free Digital Cookbooks: Get Started With Dessert

There are too many competing stories to tell about the pandemic for any one to take the spotlight for long, which makes coming to terms with the moment especially challenging. Everything seems in upheaval—especially in parts of the world where rampant corruption, ineptitude, and authoritarian abuse have worsened and prolonged an already bad situation. But if there’s a lens that might be wide enough to take it all in, I’d wager it’s the story of food, from manufacture, to supply chains, to the table.

The ability to dine out serves as a barometer of social health. Restaurants are essential to normalcy and neighborhood coherence, as well as hubs of local commerce. They now struggle to adapt or close their doors. Food service staff represent some of the most precarious of workers. Meanwhile, everyone has to eat. “Some of the world’s best restaurants have gone from fine dining to curbside pickups,” writes Rico Torres, Chef and Co-owner of Mixtli. “At home, a renewed sense of self-reliance has led to a resurgence of the home cook.”




Some, amateurs and professionals both, have returned their skills to the community, cooking for protestors on the streets, for example. Others have turned a newfound passion for cooking on their families. Whatever the case, they are all doing important work, not only by feeding hungry bellies but by engaging with and transforming culinary traditions. Despite its essential ephemerality, food preserves memory, through the most memory-intensive of our senses, and through recipes passed down for generations.

Recipe collections are also sites of cultural exchange and conflict. Such has been the case in the long struggle to define the essence of authentic Mexican food. You can learn more about that argument in our previous post on a collection of traditional (and some not-so-traditional) Mexican cookbooks which are being digitized and put online by researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). Their collection of over 2,000 titles dates from 1789 to the present and represents a vast repository of knowledge for scholars of Mexican cuisine.

But let’s be honest, what most of us want, and need, is a good meal. It just so happens, as chefs now serving curbside will tell you, that the best cooking (and baking) learns from the cooking of the past. In observance of the times we live in, the UTSA Libraries Special Collections has curated many of the historic Mexican recipes in their collection as what they call “a series of mini-cookbooks” titled “Recetas: Cocindando en los Tiempos del Coronavirus.”

Because many in our communities have found themselves in the kitchen during the COVID-19 pandemic during stay-at-home orders, we hope to share the collection and make it even more accessible to those looking to explore Mexican cuisine.

These recipes, now being made available as e-cookbooks, have been transcribed and translated from handwritten manuscripts by archivists who are passionate about this food. Perhaps in honor of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate—whose novel “paints a narrative of family and tradition using Mexico’s deep connection to cuisine”—the collection has “saved the best for first” and begun with the dessert cookbook. They’ll continue the reverse order with Volume 2, main courses, and Volume 3, appetizers & drinks.

Endorsed by Chef Torres, the first mini-cookbook modernizes and translates the original Spanish into English, and is available in pdf or epub. It does not modernize more traditional ways of cooking. As the Preface points out, “many of the manuscript cookbooks of the early 19th century assume readers to be experienced cooks.” (It was not an occupation undertaken lightly.) As such, the recipes are “often light on details” like ingredient lists and step-by-step instructions. As Atlas Obscura notes, the recipe above for “‘Petra’s cookies’ calls for “’one cup not quite full of milk.'”

“We encourage you to view these instructions as opportunities to acquire an intuitive feel for your food,” the archive writes. It’s good to learn new habits. Whatever else it is now—community service, chore, an exercise in self-reliance, self-improvement, or stress relief—cooking is also creating new ways of remembering and connecting across new distances of time and space, working with the raw materials we have at hand. Download the first Volume of the UTSA cookbook series, Postres: Guardando Lo Mejor Para el Principio, here and look for more “Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus” recipes coming soon.

via Atlas Obscura

Related Content:

An Archive of Handwritten Traditional Mexican Cookbooks Is Now Online

An Archive of 3,000 Vintage Cookbooks Lets You Travel Back Through Culinary Time

82 Vintage Cookbooks, Free to Download, Offer a Fascinating Illustrated Look at Culinary and Cultural History

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


by | Permalink | Comments (49) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s continued operation, please consider making a donation. We thank you!






Comments (49)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Renee Vasquez says:

    Looking forward to the. recipes.😊

  • Kathie Olson says:

    Excited about The recipes

  • Arlette Bennett says:

    I would like to recive recipes if possible.

    Thank you,

    Arlette Bennett Pesqueira

  • Bertha Cantu Lines says:

    I am excited to learn more!

  • Bertha Cantu Lines says:

    Wonderful!

  • Media morones says:

    So some one thinks its ok to give away are culture….and someone thats not Mexican to benefit from it…..like taco bell ??come on people think….my culture..is not to just throw around

  • Debbie says:

    Yes please send me copies of the translated e-cookbooks

  • Aileen Ortega says:

    It would have been nice to see a picture of the finished quinceanera cake. The cake must be something to behold.

  • Lena Gomez says:

    Looks like a good cookbook

  • Guadalupe Cervantes says:

    How can I make it possible to get some of them cookbooks;Receta 1 Receta 2 and Receta 3 .Reminds me of visiting my Great Gramma and My Abuelo in the Mountains of Mexico.

  • Oscar Palos says:

    I am interested.

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for your generous offer…
    I’d love it😊

  • David Chiaravalli says:

    Please send me a copy of the cookbook-
    Thanks

  • Marisol says:

    There’s many ways this story could’ve been told especially without that first paragraph. Whenever someone non Mexican writes/talks about Mexico they always find a way to include corruption and other non great comments. I understand he made it seem like he was just talking about situations in the world but is obvious where he was going with that. If you are truly in love with our food you gotta love our people we are one and the same and believe me our culture is not based on political situations or opinions. If you truly knew anything you would know that the US is no different than that they just do it in a very sneaky way that makes you agree to it and welcome the corruption, ineptitude and authoritarian abuse with open arms.

  • Irma Aguirre says:

    Marisol, I agree with you, because other countries including ours has corruption. But, they always want to make themselves look better than other countries, especially this clown cycle path we have now in the white house now. Anyways, I refuse to waste my time on pathetic things. So, I don’t need any recetas because my culture people have taught me and my sisters, which I am blessed.

  • Irma says says:

    Marisol, I agree with you, because other countries including ours has corruption. But, they always want to make themselves look better than other countries, especially this clown cycle path we have now in the white house now. Anyways, I refuse to waste my time on pathetic things. So, I don’t need any recetas because my culture people have taught me and my sisters, which I am blessed.

  • Paula Meyer says:

    Just make a very simple way to get to the recipes! Simple headings, like

    MEAT. then
    Beef
    Fajitas, etc.
    Pork
    Chicken, etc. etc.
    VEGETABLES. then
    Corn
    Beans, etc. etc.
    SPICES
    Chili powder
    Cumin
    Coriander, etc., etc.
    DESSERTS

    ONE POT MEALS

    Have a simple link that takes you right to the site, super simple instructions, and a place to comment or ask questions at the end of each recipe. KISS=KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.
    THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH FOR THE RECIPES, HOPE TO SEE THEM SOON!
    Paula Meyer

  • Mariel says:

    We are not giving out culture away. We are sharing the best of us.

  • Jesus Sanchez says:

    Yes I would like a free cook book

  • Sophia Castro says:

    I’m on a member of a site on FB called New M****o cooking, someone shared a picture of there relishes looking dish ,he seemed he was trying to educate other members on there recipes, the man come at me because I asked him what they call there enchiladas, (because they don’t roll them) I gave him an example; just like Italians have a different name for all there pastas but mostly it’s all the same sauce, So I think right ?…. what do I know!! I told him I am Mexican and preferred Old Mexican cooking .
    So then he goes on to tell me that I’m living in pre historical times, how there’s quicker ways to cook, that I must have a lot of time on my hands.
    So bottom line AUTHENTIC is better especially when made with LOVE in all foods,The tastes are amazing, I don’t always cook like this but when I do I love a good recipe. I love all foods that taste good I don’t discriminate, I’ll try anything once if I love it I research the recipe.

  • Daniel V. Rodriguez says:

    Yes, I’d like a free cook book as well. I like to cook very much & I do about 90%of the cooking in my relationship. Thanks

  • Rose says:

    Please send me the clocking book

  • Alex Garcia says:

    Thanks for the generous offer, I would love to get the recipes,

  • Modesta Salas says:

    I am interested in having these recipes.
    My kids are always asking about how their grandma made authentic food and I just don’t have the right measurements. This would be helpful. Thank you.

  • Britton Stewart says:

    I am looking forward to seeing these recipes when they are available. I love Mexican cooking very much….

  • Frederick v paz says:

    I would like to try the recipes
    Please send free recipe book

  • Coni Szemis says:

    Can’t wait to get cooking… Thank you!!!!

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Mrs. Olson, my name is Benito González García Jr.

    I would truly love and appreciate to know what is your earliest memory and/or history with my country of Mexico or with Mexican people or with Mexican culture as far back as you can possibly remember as a child or teenager in the United States of America or in your own country?

    In other words how did you first learn about Mexico or about Mexican culture growing up in your native country?

    Perhaps your very first memory of Mexico was in school, or on the television, or on the radio, or from your parents or from other relatives or friends or in some other way?

    The reason for asking you these strange questions is because we as Mexicans are by far the most patriotic and culturally proud people for our country (NOT for our corrupt government) more so than any other nationality on Earth. Our love for Mexico is like a religion, even though we recognize and are ashamed of all of Mexico’s economic and social problems.

    Because of our extreme patriotism we absolutely love when we see people from other countries or other nationalities that have any personal interest in our country and/or our culture. In your case our cuisine. It is a huge honor for us and brings us even more patriotism and patriotism. It means more to us than you can possibly know.

    I would truly appreciate your responses to all of my questions. Thank you for your time. God bless.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Mrs. Szemis, my name is Benito González García Jr.

    I would truly love and appreciate to know what is your earliest memory and/or history with my country of Mexico or with Mexican people or with Mexican culture as far back as you can possibly remember as a child or teenager in the United States of America or in your own country?

    In other words how did you first learn about Mexico or about Mexican culture growing up in your native country?

    Perhaps your very first memory of Mexico was in school, or on the television, or on the radio, or from your parents or from other relatives or friends or in some other way?

    The reason for asking you these strange questions is because we as Mexicans are by far the most patriotic and culturally proud people for our country (NOT for our corrupt government) more so than any other nationality on Earth. Our love for Mexico is like a religion, even though we recognize and are ashamed of all of Mexico’s economic and social problems.

    Because of our extreme patriotism we absolutely love when we see people from other countries or other nationalities that have any personal interest in our country and/or our culture. In your case our cuisine. It is a huge honor for us and brings us even more patriotism and patriotism. It means more to us than you can possibly know.

    I would truly appreciate your responses to all of my questions. Thank you for your time. God bless.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Mr. Paz, I’m just wondering are you Mexican or of Mexican descent by any chance? Thank you.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Mrs. Stewart, my name is Benito González García Jr.

    I would truly love and appreciate to know what is your earliest memory and/or history with my country of Mexico or with Mexican people or with Mexican culture as far back as you can possibly remember as a child or teenager in the United States of America or in your own country?

    In other words how did you first learn about Mexico or about Mexican culture growing up in your native country?

    Perhaps your very first memory of Mexico was in school, or on the television, or on the radio, or from your parents or from other relatives or friends or in some other way?

    The reason for asking you these strange questions is because we as Mexicans are by far the most patriotic and culturally proud people for our country (NOT for our corrupt government) more so than any other nationality on Earth. Our love for Mexico is like a religion, even though we recognize and are ashamed of all of Mexico’s economic and social problems.

    Because of our extreme patriotism we absolutely love when we see people from other countries or other nationalities that have any personal interest in our country and/or our culture. In your case our cuisine. It is a huge honor for us and brings us even more patriotism and patriotism. It means more to us than you can possibly know.

    I would truly appreciate your responses to all of my questions. Thank you for your time. God bless.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Mrs. Rose, I’m just curious are you Mexican or of Mexican descent by any chance? Thank you.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Mr. Chiaravalli, my name is Benito González García Jr.

    I would truly love and appreciate to know what is your earliest memory and/or history with my country of Mexico or with Mexican people or with Mexican culture as far back as you can possibly remember as a child or teenager in the United States of America or in your own country?

    In other words how did you first learn about Mexico or about Mexican culture growing up in your native country?

    Perhaps your very first memory of Mexico was in school, or on the television, or on the radio, or from your parents or from other relatives or friends or in some other way?

    The reason for asking you these strange questions is because we as Mexicans are by far the most patriotic and culturally proud people for our country (NOT for our corrupt government) more so than any other nationality on Earth. Our love for Mexico is like a religion, even though we recognize and are ashamed of all of Mexico’s economic and social problems.

    Because of our extreme patriotism we absolutely love when we see people from other countries or other nationalities that have any personal interest in our country and/or our culture. In your case our cuisine. It is a huge honor for us and brings us even more patriotism and patriotism. It means more to us than you can possibly know.

    I would truly appreciate your responses to all of my questions. Thank you for your time. God bless.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Mrs. Meyer, may I ask you what is your nationality? I’m just wondering thank you.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Laura, are you Mexican or of Mexican descent by any chance? I’m just curious thank you.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Greetings Debbie, my name is Benito González García Jr.

    I would truly love and appreciate to know what is your earliest memory and/or history with my country of Mexico or with Mexican people or with Mexican culture as far back as you can possibly remember as a child or teenager in the United States of America or in your own country?

    In other words how did you first learn about Mexico or about Mexican culture growing up in your native country?

    Perhaps your very first memory of Mexico was in school, or on the television, or on the radio, or from your parents or from other relatives or friends or in some other way?

    The reason for asking you these strange questions is because we as Mexicans are by far the most patriotic and culturally proud people for our country (NOT for our corrupt government) more so than any other nationality on Earth. Our love for Mexico is like a religion, even though we recognize and are ashamed of all of Mexico’s economic and social problems.

    Because of our extreme patriotism we absolutely love when we see people from other countries or other nationalities that have any personal interest in our country and/or our culture. In your case our cuisine. It is a huge honor for us and brings us even more patriotism and patriotism. It means more to us than you can possibly know.

    I would truly appreciate your responses to all of my questions. Thank you for your time. God bless.

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Benito González García Jr. says:

    Mrs. Cantu, I’m just curious are you Mexican or of Mexican descent by any chance?

    Respectfully,
    Benito González García Jr.

  • Virginia Gutierrez-Rivera says:

    Im excited. Can’t wait

  • Virginia Gutierrez-Rivera says:

    I am indigenous native to Mexico. I am of Mexican decent.

  • SILVIA M. says:

    Suggestion

    Is there a possibility to download a recipe book from back in the day from Merida Yucatan Mexico….I think the title is ” La Anita and it contains good old recipes….I would love to cook traditional food with original ingredients…

  • Abby says:

    First of all taco bell isn’t mexican food lmao and I’m glad a recipe book is comming out so people can learn how to cook good and stop trying to imitate mexican dishes by adding hot sauce or tomatoes sauce!I hope they add chilaquiles people need to step up their cooking game!

  • Cruz says:

    Sorry folks but recipes are not something we mejicano tejanos use.
    My mother and her mother never had a recipe book. They cooked with a secret recipe, called LOVE.
    My wife is the best cook in the world and she has no recipe book! Sorry but we don’t need a book to cook!

  • Cruz says:

    And another thing. There is a huge difference between Mexican food from different parts of Mexico and from different parts of the United States. All of my 4 sisters do not use recetas. Our grandmothers never had recetas written down, they showed their very young daughters how to cook. My wife is the same way. She has taught me how to cook! I feel sorry for all of you that think that taco bell and taco bueno are real Mexican food. Most of yall think that all we eat is beans and tortillas! Do not want us in this country but LOVE our food!

  • Monica Mendoza says:

    how would I be able to download The cookbook.

  • Lucia Garcia says:

    Very excited. Would live to purchase a cookbook with recipes of main courses.. very exciting!!

  • Lucia Garcia says:

    Very excited. Would live to purchase a cookbook with recipes of main courses..

  • ARLENA GALINDO-RODRIGUEZ says:

    I AM OF MEXICAN DECENT BUT RAISED AND LIVED IN THE CHICAGO AREA. MY FATHER’S FAMILY IS STILL LIVING IN A TEXAS BORDER TOWN. WHEN I VISIT, COOKING TRADITIONAL MEXICAN DISHES IS A FAMILY AFFAIR…EVERYONE HELPS MAKING THE CUISINE. IT IS SAD THAT MOST AMERICANS KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MEXICO, ALL OF ITS HUNDREDS OF CULTURES AND LANGUAGE DIALECTS. ALL MOST AMERICANS KNOW ABOUT MEXICO ARE THE TOURIST CITIES WHERE THEY STAY AND PLAY FOR TWO WEEKS ON THE OCEAN EDGES. PUBLISHING THESE AUTHENIC OLD RECIPES IS A WONDERFUL WAY TO SHARE A CULTURE.

  • Sandra says:

    My first memory was watching my dad make a Mexican potato dish he learned from prior farm workers on my grandfathers property.

Leave a Reply

Quantcast