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Mexico Through My Kitchen Window (1938) – Sonora Stew

June 14, 2013
Mexico Through My Kitchen Window (1938) by María A. de Carbia. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Mexico Through My Kitchen Window (1938) by María A. de Carbia. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

De Carbia, Maria A. Mexico Through My Kitchen Window. (México: M.A. de Carbia, 1938). [TX716 .M4 C372 1938].

María de Carbia was born in Mexico City, educated in a French convent and studied home economics in the U.S. and Mexico.[1] Her first cookbook, Marichu Va a la Cocina (Little Mary goes to the Kitchen), was published in the early 1930s, and she went on to become a popular and well-known author within Mexico. Altogether, she wrote more than ten cookbooks covering both Mexican and International cuisine, some of which appeared in multiple editions.  Only a few years after her very first cookbook, de Carbia published Mexico Through my Kitchen Window, intended to introduce Mexican Cuisine to American readers.

In her introduction, De Carbia notes that some recipes have been modified to take into account the unavailability of certain ingredients, such as “real tortillas” outside Mexico. She reassures readers, though, that “these have been pronounced as most satisfactory by critical ‘Gourments'(sic) in Mexico City and I feel confident that the American readers will welcome them as ‘something new and different.’”

Mexico Through my Kitchen Window is divided into chapters on Appetizers, Soups, Rice Dishes, Eggs, Fish, Meats, Poultry, Tortilla, Vegetables, Desserts, Pastry & Cakes, and Mexican Festivals.  Some of the recipes consist of dishes that will later become standard fare for cookbooks of Mexican cuisine aimed at American cooks – Eggs “Ranch Style”, Turkey Mole, and Enchiladas with Green Pepper Sauce. Other recipes reflect the cosmopolitan tastes of well-off Mexicans of the time, or perhaps simply De Carbia’s own French and Spanish heritage, such as Rice “Barcelona” (containing rabbit, clambs, artichokes, saffron, and paprika among other ingredients) and Veal Valencia style (with bacon tomatoes, and red canned pimentos).

One of relatively few recipes citing a specific place of origin within Mexico is Sonora Stew, described as “a specialty in Sonora one of the Northern States of Mexico famous for the bravery of its men, its chick-peas and its tomatoes.” The recipe is offered for your enjoyment below:

SONORA STEW (Pp. 89-90)

Meat for stew                   1 pound
Chick-peas                         ½ pound
String beans                      ½ pound
Large onion                       1
Garlic                                   1 clove
Tomato sauce                   1 cup
Red chili powder             1 tbsp.
Shortening                         3 tbsps.
Salt                                        To taste

Soak chick peas overnight. Next day boil in plenty of water. When half done, take off skin and put back in water with the meat cut in small pieces, salt and onion. When meat is almost tender add string beans (cleaned and tied in bunches).

Melt shortening add minced garlic and when transparent add tomato sauce and red chili powder. Cook five minutes and add to the boiling stew. Cook until meat and vegetables are very tender.

This stew should be served with plenty of sauce. 

[1] Corbitt, Helen, ed. “The Author” in Mexico Through My Kitchen Window, María de Carbia (Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1961).

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