De Carbia, María A. Mexico Through My Kitchen Window. (México: M.A. de Carbia, 1938). [TX716 .M4 C372 1938].
In addition to the illustrations at chapter openings in María A. de Carbia’s Mexico Through My Kitchen Window, small vignettes provide spots of color throughout the text. On first inspection, the reader is likely to dismiss them as nothing more than decorative.
However, when I got to the end of the book, I found that even though there is no recipe index, there is an index of illustrations, with an explanation of what each item depicted is and a little information about it. This showcasing of the artwork is somewhat unusual for a cookbook, and reinforces the significant involvement and investment of illustrator Imelda Calderón. It also highlights the author and illustrator’s commitment to not only bringing “new and different” recipes to American kitchens, but to really introducing “a bit of our beloved country” to their readers. (front matter).
The descriptions occasionally show some rather awkward use of English. I suspect that Carbia may have written the manuscript in English herself, rather than writing in Spanish and relying on a translator.
Click on an image in the mosaic below to see the complete caption.
“ESCOBETITA DE TEOCALTICHE Y CEDAZO”. (Brush of Teocaltiche and sieve). The brush is made of ixtle, the fibre of the Agave plant and native women use them to brush their long hair. The cedazo is used instead of wire sieves to strain fruit juices….COVER.
“NOPAL” (Prickly Pear). A species of cactus covered with clusters of spines and producing an edible fruit red, yellow, or green. It is very abundant in Mexico and very decorative. The Royal Eagle heroical symbol of a race came from the skies to rest its paws on the Nopal being forever the emblem of the Mexican country….9
“SOMBRERO DE CHARRO”. The Hat use by the Mexican cowboys. Some are embroidered in gold or silver. Many of them being worth several hundred pesos….12
“GUAJE DE OLINALA, GUERRERO”.” Decorated Gourd….13
“JICARA DE OLINALA, GUERRERO”. These bowls are made of gourds when they have reached a certain growth. The natives hollow them and let them dry. Then they take away all the roughness until they are perfectly smooth. They varnish them in one color, generally black or red. When the color of the background is dry they carve the parts where they are going to draw birds, flowers and other ornamental desings (sic) which they paint in vivid colors and polish beautifully. This polish or lacquer is taken from a little insect called ‘Age’. All the colors are vegetable and marvelously resistant to light, sun and time. Taking advantage of the variety of shapes that the gourds have; the natives make bowls, decorative fruits, trays, etc. They also make chests and boxes of an aromatic wood named ‘linaloe’ which they decorate with the same system….16
“MOLCAJETE”. Mortar made of a porous volcanic stone that is used all through Mexico to mash tomatoes, chili and spices for the sauces….33
“GUAJE DE URUAPAN”. Gourd from Uruapan a town in the state of Michoacán famed for its lacquers…..24
“OLLITA DE OAXACA”. Vase from Oaxaca. This pottery is decorated with very simple desings (sic) of flowers and most of the times just the colors running into one another generally in shades of green, blue, yellow, purple and brown….21
“MOLINILLO DE PARACHO, MICHOACAN Y CUCHARA DE DE (sic) PALO”. Wooden beater and spoon made in Paracho a small town in Michoacán. The molinillo is a typical Mexican utensil consisting of a wooden handle with a round carved piece at the end with several loose pieces like wooden necklaces. Some of them are beautifully carved and inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl. The spoon is of the kind generally used in Mexican kitchens….20
“PLATO DE TLAQUEPAQUE, JALISCO”. Plate from Tlaquepaque a small town near Guadaljara famed for the pottery made by its natives….17
“Cuchara Decorada con TLACHIQUERO”. Decorated spoon. The painting represents a “tlachiquero” or man that draws the “pulque” liquor from the agave plant….36
“JARRO DE GUADALAJARA”. Vase from Tlaquepaque near Guadalajara….37
“GUAJITOS DE OLINALA”. Gourds….40
“CESTITO DE PALMA”. Basket made of dried palm leaves….57
“JICALPEXTLE DE TEHUANTEPEC”. Bowl made of a hollowed gourd decorated in a very similar way to those of Uruapan and Olinalá. Native women from the isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca use them to carry vegetables and fruits on their heads.
“PLATO DE TEOTIHUACAN Y TAZA DE OAXACA”. Teotihuacán plate and vase from Oaxaca. Natives from Teotihuacán near the famous pyramids make pottery from a grey black clay. The motives of decoration are very simple and copied from ancient Aztec desings (sic). They are in white lines over the gray-black background….69
“ESCOBETITA Y GUAJE DE URUAPAN”. Brush (described in No. 1 Index) and gourd….68
“GUAJE DE OLINALA DECORADO COMO PEZ”. Olinalá gourd decorated to resemble a fish….65
“JARRON DE TALAVERA POBLANA”. Talavera Vase from Puebla. This is the finest pottery made in Mexico. Blue is the predominant if not the only color used in the decoration….64
“SPOLADOR DE OAXACA”. Straw fan used all through Mexico to keep the fire burning. As in most Mexican kitchens wood coal is used “sopladores” are indispensable….61
“CESTITO DE PALMA”. Basket made of dried palm leaves….72
“COCHINITO DE BARRO”. Mexican clay pig. The pig has been considered one of the most typical of Mexican decorative motives (sic). Natives make small clay pigs to serve as savings banks for children. They are made with a slit in the back, where the children insert their coins. When the pig is full they break it. They also make salt cellars decorated in gay colors….89
“SERVILLETA DE OAXACA”. Cotton doily made in Oaxaca in very primitive looms. They also make large tablecloths, luncheon and bridge sets. The colors are very bright….93
“CANDELERO DE OAXACA”. Oaxaca candlestick….96
“VASO DE GUADALAJARA”. Another example of Guadalajara pottery this kind being without luster and in very soft shades.