Foie gras, flying ants in Briton's Mexico kitchen

Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:05am EDT
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By Chris Aspin

ZITACUARO, Mexico (Reuters Life!) - British-born Diana Kennedy has left behind the bland flavors of her homeland to become the world authority on a bewildering array of Mexican recipes from corn fungus crepes to blood sausage tacos.

Now in her 80s, Kennedy is a cook's cook who was decorated with the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor given to foreigners in Mexico, for her work traveling around the country garnering recipes and cataloging them in her cookbooks.

In her adobe house near the western city of Zitacuaro where she once fed Britain's Prince Charles, she savors everything from Mexican flying ants and rich pumpkin seed sauces to stodgy British pork pies and Stilton cheese with a good port.

She bemoans cooking trends that place more emphasis on how a dish looks than how it tastes and says culinary schools should hold classes for diners to teach people how to taste.

"We are forgetting that food should taste good, not only look good, but it should taste good first," Kennedy said at her ecologically friendly home.

Born in Essex in southern England, Kennedy says her mother was a great cook and despite the household having little money, she remembers a childhood with a varied and tasty diet.

A lifetime of recipes later, Prince Charles ate lunch at her home in 2001 and Queen Elizabeth awarded her the MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal for furthering British-Mexican relations.

Kennedy ended up in Mexico after meeting her future husband Paul Kennedy, a Mexico-based New York Times correspondent, on the steps of a hotel in Haiti. They fell in love, and she joined him in 1957.   Continued...