Get The Ink Out: Fiesta cooking with Bayless

October 05, 2010
  • COOKING MAESTRO: Chef Rick Bayless talks about the spirit and celebration of Mexican style "fiesta" food he discovered while on a trip to Mexico City that led him to the success he enjoys today, during a demonstration at Macy's Home Store at Crystal Court.
COOKING MAESTRO: Chef Rick Bayless talks about the spirit… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

The kitchen is my favorite place in any home. I don't care how pretty it is, if it has the latest gadgets or if it is bigger than a three-car garage. The kitchen is where magic happens.

So when I heard that an amazing magician named Rick Bayless would be doing a cooking demonstration Thursday at the Macy's Home Store, I could hardly contain myself.

Bayless' focus for the demonstration was commemorating events Mexican style, which matches perfectly with his newest book, "Fiesta at Rick's." The audience sipped on Rick's Favorite Summer Soft Drink, also known as agua fresca veraniega, while he talked about why celebrating is the theme of "Fiesta."

Growing up as the fourth generation in a restaurant family, the farthest from his Oklahoma home he'd traveled was Texas and Kansas — that is until he was 14. That year, he got to plan the entire family vacation. He wanted to go somewhere where they spoke another language. Next stop: Mexico City.


The smells from the street vendors below wafted up to their hotel room, there was a palpable sense of fiesta, he said.

"Despite all I've learned about cooking, the thing I learned most from Mexico is how to commemorate moments in life," he said. Whether that be a quincearñera or the first tomato harvested that season, there is always a reason to enjoy good food and good company.

As he spoke about that first trip to Mexico, the smell of bacon drifted through the air. He teased us a bit but didn't say why he had it.

He started his demonstration with guacamole, of course. While slicing open a few Hass avocados, he gave a brief history about them (did you know they were developed in Anaheim in the 1920s?) and the difference between the Hass- and Caribbean-style avocados (Hasses have more oil whereas the Caribbean ones are sweeter but drier). There are two essential flavorings for guacamole: salt and lime.

Then came the onion.

"I'm pointing out that this is a white onion because people are color blind [with yellow onions]," Bayless said. "People think, 'There are red onions or that other kind.'"

Next he added flat leaf parsley. I know, you're thinking, "Where the heck is the cilantro?" Not here, my friend.

He added chopped tomatoes grown in his restaurant's rooftop garden boxes. And for that extra kick Americans crave (in Mexico, Bayless said, guacamole is paired with a fiery salsa on their food instead of eaten with chips), he put in chipotle chilies.

Time for another history lesson.

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