Diana Kennedy: ‘The Indiana Jones of food’ talks about Mexican

Mexico, as a country, will be eternally indebted to her efforts’: Diana Kennedy at home in Michoacan. Photograph: Paul Harris/Getty Images

She was instrumental in putting Mexican cuisine on the world’s food map. Now 97, Diana Kennedy is the subject of a brilliant film.

Diana Kennedy has written nine cookbooks. The first, The Cuisines of Mexico, was published in 1972, is several hundred pages long, and has been widely credited with introducing traditional Mexican cooking to the English-speaking world.

Kennedy is 97, white, and English – hardly the ingredients you’d expect to make up a leading authority on Mexican food, but sometimes ingredients surprise you.

She lives in the hills of Michoacán, four hours west of Mexico City, on a piece of land she bought decades ago. In culinary circles she is adored. The Mexican chef Gabriela Cámara describes her as “a legend”.

Here’s the restaurateur Nick Zukin: “She is a prophet for Mexican food.” And the chef Rick Bayless: “She’s an incredible repository of knowledge.” And Pati Jinich, host of the Emmy-nominated TV series Pati’s Mexican Table: “I think Mexico, as a country, will be eternally indebted to her efforts.”

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