The Recipes & Rapture Out of One Chef’s Mexican Kitchen


Torta de Lechón, Ceviche de Almejas Chocolatas Tlayuda con Tasajo, Gorditas de Mais… this is happening.

James Beard Nominee, IACP Award Winner, TASTE AWARD Breakout Foodie of the Year, regular New York Times and Food52 contributor, Babish Culinary Universe star, and Borderline Salty co-host extraordinaire. It seems it’s Rick Martínez’s world, and we’re just lucky to be living in it.

And now add cookbook author to that list.

Mi Cocina: Recipes And Rapture From My Kitchen In Mexico is Martínez’s debut, and it’s a great one.

Pulling together inspiration from throughout México, Martínez undertook nearly two years of research starting in CDMX, then through 32 states, 156 cities, and 20,000 miles. But the brilliance of this cookbook is that the recipes are all his.

From his kitchen in Mazatlán, with his dog, Choco, by his side and the Pacific a stone’s throw away. Martínez provides his version of recipes tasted around the country and recreated in his home mainly for an American audience. And we are thankful for it.

And the revolutionary politics of this should not be underestimated.

That idea of who knows what and how they know it, the role of authenticity, and who we demand it from in the culinary community, remains a hot button issue.

“If I invited ten people to my house to make an aguachile, which is an iconic dish here in Mazatlán, there would be ten versions of that dish. And they would probably all be super delicious and imaginative and reflect the individual and their likes and their preferences and their own personal flair or sazón in the kitchen. And to me, that’s a beautiful thing. Why don’t we celebrate that?

But, the reality for many chefs of color is “it has to be somehow more real, more true, and more authentic to the place of origin.” If it’s a white person take on a dish, it so often becomes “so-and-so’s salad,” Martínez says, framing people of color as not a chef with special skills and taste preferences, into a culinary historian defining the ultimate recipe of an entire people, who are also stripped of their individuality and regional diversity.

“There are a number of authors who have researched food in Mexico and published books that use other people’s recipes. And I did not want to be one of those people. These recipes are mine. They’re my love letter to the people who cooked the food for me; they’re made with my personal sazón and what ingredients were available to me in Mazatlán.”

That might sound like nothing, but it is a significant shift in how chefs of color explore imposed expectations and boundaries on their cooking, legitimacy, and expected output.

“There are some ingredients that I can’t find here, and if I can’t find them here, there’s no way an American home cook is going to be able to find them in the United States—and I also wanted to make it easy for an American home cook to make these recipes.”

Food has long been a passion in the Martínez household in Austin, Texas, where the love was nurtured by his mother, the television, and, especially, Diana Kennedy.

“When I was in sixth grade, she took two weeks off of work during my winter break so we could learn how to make tamales together. She had only ever seen her aunts and her mother make them, all of whom had died by that point. There was no one in our family who could pass the recipe down, so she decided to restart the tradition and pass it to her sons.”

“My mom is the reason that I cook.”

“We loved Two Fat Ladies on the BBC and Emeril Live, but our favorite show was Diana Kennedy’s,” explaining that beyond the adoration of the food legend was a tangible loss.

“What was so devastating to me as a Mexican American boy growing up in Texas was that she knew more about my culture and my people than I did. That a British woman and Rick Bayless, a white man from Oklahoma, got to represent the culinary diversity of México while my Mexican American family tried to enculturate with meatloaf and Chef Boyardee.”

Martínez became a star with his popular videos on Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen; while also a Senior Editor with the magazine. Occupying a unique position of influence within the industry, he was widely lauded for his talent on air. All that television paid off in more ways than one.

But what started with a revolting photo of Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport in brownface that combined bare-knuckled ideas on culture, racism, arrogance, cluelessness, and privilege was merely the beginning.

Just how deep the racism ran within the magazine became public. The toxic culture was revealed, and the economic inequalities of the payment to white people for making Test Kitchen videos versus people of color were exposed.

As Bon Appetit’s parent company, Condé Nast, denied that individuals are paid differently based on race or gender – which was widely proven untrue. Priya Krishna, Sohla El-Waylly, and Martínez, amongst others, resigned after negotiations for equal pay for equal work were not adequately settled.

For decades it’s been called Condé Nasty, for many reasons.

Luckily, Martínez remains online through his popular show Pruébalo on YouTube’s enormously successful Babish Culinary Universe network. While Borderline Salty is the podcast he cohosts with Carla Lalli Music, they have returned for more advice and quiet truths.

And remember: any issues that may arise when following their advice are best handled with a quick call to them at 833-433-FOOD (3663). Now how’s that for service? 

Martínez, Rick. Mi Cocina: Recipes And Rapture From My Kitchen In Mexico. Clarkson Potter, USA. Hardcover. $35. 304 pages. 


Hot Enough? Pati Jinich Is Here For You

Pati Jinich
Photo by Ellen Silverman

A Mushroom Jalapeño Matzah Pati Jinich Ball Soup Perfect For The Heatwave That Is Summer 2021.

Pati Jinich is a treasure. With Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking (2013) and Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens (2016), she has ushered great, contemporary Mexican cooking into our lives. If Dianna Kennedy framed the historical foundation of the diversity of cuisine that abounds in Mexico, Pati Jinich shows us what’s happening today. 

Treasures of the Mexican Table, Pati’s third cookbook will be released on November 2, 2021.

In addition to her books, Jinich has produced multiple television shows which are available on PBS and various streaming services. Giving us extraordinary access to Mexico’s great home kitchens, farms, restaurants, and, best of all, the people who make it all happen.

Jinich also shares her family history through food, writing,”my grandfather on my mother’s side, Francisco, whom we called “Yeye,” was wild about chiles. Not very common in his native Bratislava, I guess. He used to say that what he loved the most about his new country was the predictable weather (especially the bright sunny winters), the colorful markets, and most of all, the chiles. All of them.” 

Pati Jinich
A picture-perfect for Yeye!

Francisco had escaped the Slovak Republic during WWII, where approximately 15,000 other Jews in the capital city of Bratislava were deported to concentration camps, where nearly all were killed. 

Jinich continued the story of her family with her grandmother, “she had Austrian training in the kitchen and made exquisite and elegant foods. Once in Mexico, she fell in love with the cuisine and learned how to combine the two culinary traditions. She became a master at it. She created a classic dish out of her Mushroom Jalapeño Matzah Ball Soup.” 

A beautiful story of cultures meeting and something new and wonderful being born. 

One warning: this recipe is addictive. It is by far the matzah ball soup I make at home the most. It is particularly great because you can swap out the chicken broth for excellent quality vegetable broth and make a dairy meal. And if you have an avocado handy, a few slices into this mix is a treat. 

Mushroom Jalapeño Matzah Ball Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup matzah ball mix
  • 2 Tbsp parsley finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp sparkling water (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chiles finely chopped, seeded optional, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms wiped clean with cloth, sliced
  • 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt or to taste
  • 8-10 cups chicken broth (** I use high quality vegetable broth for dairy meals **)


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the matzah ball mix, parsley, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • In another small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.
  • Fold in the beaten eggs to the matzah ball mixture with a spatula. Add the sparkling water if you want the matzo balls fluffy, and mix well until well combine.
  • Cover the mix and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  • Bring about 12 cups of salted water to a rolling boil in a large soup pot.
  • Bring heat down to medium and keep at a steady simmer. With wet hands, make about 1 inch balls out of the matzah ball mix and gently drop them into the water. Cover and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a large cooking pot. Add the onion, garlic and chiles and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until they have softened. Incorporate the sliced mushrooms. sprinkle the salt, stir and cover with a lid. Steam the mushrooms for about 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Take off the lid and pour the chicken broth over the mushroom base. Once it is simmering, incorporate the already cooked matzah balls, without their cooking liquid, and serve.

This recipe is from Pati’s awesome cookbook Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens