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New Mexico Tasty Traditions

A Taste Sensation

Sharon Niederman examines the people and cuisine of New Mexico in her new book.

December 1, 2010, 1:00 am
By Bryon Adams Harford

In New Mexico’s Tasty Traditions: Recollections, Recipes and Photos, author Sharon Niederman tells the story of the diverse people of New Mexico by examining what’s on their plates.

In her newest book, Niederman uses an assorted collection of photographs, recipes and personal anecdotes to illustrate what makes New Mexico so special to her.

According to Niederman, “The book is about food, and it’s about celebration.”

Originally from the East Coast, Niederman became enamored of the people and culture of New Mexico after she moved here in 1981. Evidence of her devotion can be seen in the hundreds of articles and numerous books she has published on Southwest food, travel, history and culture.

New Mexico’s Tasty Traditions: Recollections, Recipes and Photos is the fourth book she has illustrated with her own photographs.

“I always felt the stories were incomplete, and I felt like I better take my own photographs,” Niederman tells SFR.

The characters captured in Niederman’s book range from cowboys crouched over a hearty Dutch oven stew to homemakers who can’t seem to agree on the proper recipe—or spelling—for New Mexico's state cookie, the bizcochito.

As Niederman puts it, “There are so many cultures co-existing in parallel universes that are alive and well in New Mexico.”

Two individuals from this book  stand out for the author: Irma Bailey, a 94 year old Indian arts trader who shares anecdotes about life during the dust bowl days; and Anna Clisto, a 79 year old Navajo woman who still lives relatively the same way her grandmother did.

"Everything [Clisto] has she grows or makes—talk about sustainability," Niederman says.

Niederman's book isn’t just about the people of New Mexico, though, it’s also about the food that is so integral to their lives.

The carefully chosen recipes range from longstanding customs (bread baked in a beehive-shaped outdoor horno, page 91) to the author’s own take on well-worn favorites (chiles rellenos soufflé, page 94).

“I would say that for the people in New Mexico, food is an essential life principal,” Niederman says.

Niederman joins Holly Arnold Kinney, author of Shinin' Times at The Fort, and Lois Ellen Frank, author of Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations, for a discussion of "Holiday Cookbook Ideas."

Discussion and book signing

4 pm
Saturday, Dec. 4

Free

Collected Works Bookstore
202 Galisteo Street
988-4226


New Mexico’s Tasty Traditions: Recollections, Recipes and Photos
New Mexico Magazine
135 pages
$27.95

 

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