Sunday, November 28, 2010
A Little History, Travel, and It All Tastes Good
<!–COPYRIGHT:Copyright 2010 Albuquerque Journal–> By David Steinberg
Journal Staff Writer
“New Mexico’s Tasty Traditions — Recollections, Recipes and Photos” by Sharon Niederman
New Mexico Magazine, $27.95, 136 pp.
Sharon Niederman’s long-standing interest in food and travel converge in this engaging quilt of a book that is part travelogue, part cookbook and part cultural history.
A former Albuquerque resident who lives in Raton, Niederman takes the reader on a ride to eateries, homes and other locales around New Mexico.
In one section, she heads to Pietown, where she introduces the Daily Pie Cafe and the Pie-O-Neer Café. She interviews Kathy Knapp, who runs the Pie-O-Neer. The book contains her recipes for New Mexico Apple Pie and the French Pear with Ginger Pie.
The town, as the book explains, is on a 102-mile stretch of U.S. 60 west of Socorro. “In a refreshing change of pace, not a single fast-food establishment is in sight,” Niederman writes of the roadway, and then pursues a bit of sightseeing.
Check out, she writes, the “haunted ruins” of the Kelly Mine, Magdalena’s deserted stockyards and Charles Ilfeld’s warehouse. Isn’t the warehouse abandoned, too?
In another segment, Niederman writes about the popular watering hole Chope’s Bar & Café, in La Mesa, south of Las Cruces. She relates Chope’s family history and serves up its recipe for Chiles Rellenos.
Then the book declares enigmatically, “Las Cruces may be the New Orleans of New Mexico cuisine.” Huh? Niederman doesn’t support this throwaway speculative comparison; Chope’s is the only restaurant mentioned here.
The book also takes the reader to private homes and public events.
For example, you enter Tuda Libby Crews’ kitchen, where she is baking bizcochitos. She lives on the family’s Ute Creek Cattle Company Ranch in Bueyeros. The book, which includes her recipes for bizcochitos, discusses the origins of the cookie and the Great Legislative Debate in 1989 over the spelling, with a “z” or an “s.” Niederman says that “old-fashioned traditionalists (isn’t a traditionalist old-fashioned?) held out for “biscochito.”
One family event mentioned is the Glenwood Dutch-oven cookoff. That gives Niederman an opportunity to discuss the Dutch oven’s role in New Mexico cooking. The Dutch oven recipe here is Jane Shafer’s Arroz con Pollo. She is part of the Shafer Gallacher Ranch in Lincoln County.
The book refers to the public food-buying events known as farmers’ markets.
One section talks about urban gardening, focusing on the prolific, diversified, award-winning fruits, vegetables and flowers of the Albuquerque couple Jeanne Whitehouse and David Kammer.
Among other sections are those on the horno and a narrative about latkes, with the author’s recipe for the traditional Hanukkah dish.
David Steinberg is the Journal Books editor and an arts writer.
Sharon Niederman discusses, signs “New Mexico Tasty Traditions” at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Collected Works, 202 Galisteo, Santa Fe; at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW; and at 2 p.m. Dec. 12 at Tome on the Range, 158 Bridge St., Las Vegas, N.M.