By Laura Medina
On Cinco de Mayo, while amateurs were using the Mexican Army's victory over the French army one hundred fifty-six years ago, as lame excuse to get fat and rowdy over tacos and Mexican beer, Mexican culinary authority, Brit-Mexican Diana Kennedy was a center of deep intellect, honesty, and care.
On May 5th during LA Times' Food Bowl, Diana discussed how she transferred her British World War thriftiness to her current mission in utilizing what's on hand while reducing waste in her idea of paradise, Mexico.
As much love and admiration that Julia Childs had for French cuisine, Order of the British Empire Diana Kennedy is her Mexican cuisine counter-part, enough to be rewarded with Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle.
After living a rich, historical life packed with adventure, tenacity of love, and danger, at age 95, Diana doesn't give a damn what people think and say.
When she published, "The Cuisines of Mexico" by Harper & Row in 1972, she was Rick Bayliss before there was a Rick Bayliss and Americans are just getting used to Taco Bell and Cinco de Mayo-what?
As Mexican culinary stars rose up along with Mexican meals rising up in popularity, Diana was and still driving the dangerous roads in Mexico's back country, literally learning by hand in how to properly crush and powder dry chili peppers and candy-ing mangoes, which are Prince Charles' favorite.
Setting up home west of Mexico City forty-some years ago when it was not popular but dangerous and being green while it was weird and not trendy, as it is today, Diana Kennedy has a no-nonsense, pish-posh attitude towards visiting friends, family, and fans...
Paraphasing her, if Diana's visitors care about their luxurious hair, she tells them to stay in an hotel because the shampoo and conditioner residues will contaminate the clean rain water she collects, that irrigates her garden. Food before "dudes."
She's been researching, collecting, and writing about Mexican cuisines since 1972, she says the younger chefs/cookbook authors have been plagiarizing her, without even knowing it.
As a stalwart of Mexican cuisine, Diana Kennedy isn't afraid to set her visitors and people straight. If you want to visit her, you gotta give her two weeks notice. Why? It gives her enough notice to say you're vegan to properly plan her meals for them. As for gluten-free and "vegan," Diana puts her foot on down, saying use as much as possible from the meat of the animal. She cooks the meat and vegetables in animal's fat, lard as much as possible. She insists that lard is good for you and it tastes good.
Diana said we must get rid of food fads.