Saturday, December 22, 2007

Allen Strange's Taqueria

I divide composers into two classes, those who care about cooking and those who don't. (It also happens that the class of composers who write music I like is more or less coterminus with those who care about cooking, but in a universe with many happy coincidences, should that be altogether a surprise?)

Newly returned to the internet is composer Allen Strange's Manual for Mexican Street Cooking, available here. This is a nice resource, with a personal and pragmatic take on some matters strictly gourmand. Strange, long a professor of music in San Jose, has retired to places North, continues to make music, and also has written, with violinist Patricia Strange, a valuable book of instrumentation recipes for composers, The Contemporary Violin.

Growing up in Southern California, the present season has always been one intimately associated with tamales. Yes, if you stuff it in dough, I'll probably eat it, but tamales are in a class by themselves, whether sweet (filled with pineapple, mango, jam) or savory (my ideal is the long lost Atascadero tamale of my childhood). The recipes I use come mostly from an ancient copy of Maria A De Garbia's Mexico en la cocina de MARICHU, which I picked up somewhere in Mexico City a long time ago, but at this point, I tend to go freestyle with my tamale stuffings, improvising with whatever is at hand, and remaining resolutely un-PC with my tamale dough, happily enriched with dangerous quantities of manteca (yep, lard).


Civic Center said...

Thank you for reminding me. I'm in Palm Springs for Christmas and the feast has to be tamales from the original, old Las Casuelas on Palm Canyon. And I envy you your Atascadero madeleines mexicano.

Civic Center said...

The three tamales were probably my favorite Christmas dinner ever. Thanks again.