Tacotopia, Episode #4: Air-Dried Pork?

People — gringos, primarily — are often shocked when they order a taco in Mexico for the first time, and are presented with a tiny little affair with almost nothing on it.

“But where’s the cheese?” they say, their Baja Fresh faces in a glum state of disbelief, “Where’s the lettuce and the tomato and the sour cream and the six choices of salsa?”

Dried pork tacos

Dried pork tacos

It’s a similar conundrum to pastas in Italy, where oftentimes the best offerings are simple affairs (the famed cacio e pepe, for example) composed of just a few of the finest ingredients. I remember the first time I ordered a cheese sandwich as a boy in Paris, and was dumbfounded at the chunk of baguette that arrived with nothing more than a smear of camembert. And it was a revelation. More

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Two Takes on Passatelli

My ever-generous big sister, Andrea, sent me two cookbooks for my birthday. One was a simple and useful book on tacos and Mexican snacks; the other, a coffee table volume of the most complicated Italian cooking on earth called “Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef.”

Mossimo Bottura

Mossimo Bottura

I love cookbooks from the art press, Phaidon, of which the latter is one. They are beautifully designed, with full page spreads of food you would never cook, as they tend to honor the world’s most daring chefs. Such is the case with “Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef.” The subject is Modena chef Massimo Bottura and his acclaimed restaurant, Osteria Francescana, which inevitably lands in the Top 5 of the world’s best restaurant lists, though never seems able to unseat previous #1 El Bulli and current #1 Noma (both subjects of multiple Phaidon titles). More

In the Presence of Greatness

Cookbooks are the new coffee table art book. And among the many stunning culinary tomes out there, none are more conversation-stopping than the beautiful books of Phaidon.

Phaidon books on the coffee table

I currently have four Phaidon titles on my coffee table. The newest is “Noma,” featuring the culinary art of Denmark’s renowned René Redzepi of the restaurant Noma — frequently named best restaurant in the world, and sure to solidify that position with the closing of Spain’s famous el Bulli. More