The Feast of Santa Fe

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Those who live or have traveled in the vicinity of Santa Fe know that “Mexican food” in New Mexico bears a resemblance to “Tex-Mex” cuisine only insofar as fine gourmet cooking resembles everyday food. Huntley Dent, who has eaten and cooked and reviewed restaurants in much of the Southwest, has given readers the first truly good guide to Santa Fe cooking. The novice will be surprised to learn that it is not all tacos, tamales, and beans--and will also note when trying out the recipes that even when the food consists of those Tex-Mex standards, it surpasses roadside-restaurant food by light years. It is reported that there are people who have moved to Santa Fe only because of the wonderful food there and in the surrounding areas.

The recipes include all the goodness of a cuisine that has filtered through generations of Indians, Hispanics, and Anglos, and Dent does not hesitate to give readers recipes modified by Santa Fe cooks with classical training and inclinations. He loves it all, from the simplest Indian fry bread to stuffed turkey breast with pumpkin-seed sauce.

While the book’s format may look odd to the cook--Dent tries successfully to keep his directions narrative rather than cookbook formulaic--it is easy to follow and extremely sane, and it is not necessary to fly to New Mexico in order to get the ingredients. Through this book, readers can learn much about one of the most fascinating parts of America, from its kitchens outward.