Mexico City: 1938-1966. Sixty-five volumes. Quarto (and two folios). Original printed wrappers, many pictorial or multi-color. Light scattered wear and soiling, some chipping to a few covers. Paper toned. Generally clean with relatively minimal wear. Overall, very good. Item #1910
A large collection of cook books documenting the career and oeuvre of Josefina Velazquez de Leon, the pioneering celebrity chef of Mexico. "She remains the most important figure in Mexican gastronomy. From the 1930s through 1960s, she wrote and published more than 140 cookbooks (some say closer to 150) on topics ranging from cake decorating, flavorful low-cost meals, regional Mexican classics, and even launching a food business out of one’s home. She ran a successful cooking school in Mexico City, hosted her own TV show, wrote a magazine column, and appeared on the radio. She was the original Mexican celebrity chef, and you could, at one point, find her books in nearly every middle-class home" - Téllez. Velazquez's contribution to Mexican cookery cannot be overstated -- she reinvented it for modern times and made it what it is today. Her program, "El Menu de la Semana," was the first cooking show on Mexican television. She was also one of the first woman entrepreneurs in the country, forming an empire that spread beyond Mexico and into the United States.
The collection contains sixty-five cook books published by Ediciones Josefina Velazquez de Leon. They cover a wide array of subjects, many of them published as a series. The earliest work is a second edition of "Los 30 Menus," published in 1938. A sampling of the content, from Menu Num. 20, features sopa de bacalao, croquetas de arroz, pescado en salsa crema, budin de verdaduras, and postre envinado. There are cook books focusing on regions of Mexico: Cocina Veracruzana de Abolengo; Cocina de Campeche; Cocina Yucateca; Cocina de Chihuahua; Cocina Regional de Michoacan; Cocina de Sonora; and Cocina de San Luis Potosi. There are cook books for celebratory meals and occasions: Como Improvisar Fiestas; Fiestas para Niños; Aniversarios de Bodas; Fiesta de los 100 Libros; Reposteria Navidadeña. Several of the works focus on economical recipes and menus, emphasizing the everyday aspects of creating meals for the family. One cook book provides thirty recipes for the preparation of eggs. There are likewise cook books devoted to fish, and two which feature "Pan Estilo Chino," or Chinese-style breads. Many are illustrated and include local advertisements. This cataloguer's favorite might be "Cocina Instantanea," which features recipes utilizing tinned foods. There are also works devoted to pastry and decoration.
Taken altogether, this is an amazing collection aggregating much of Josefina's published work over the course of her illustrious career. It would be a foundational grouping in any cookery collection.
Lesley Téllez, "The Forgotten Legacy of Mexico's Original Celebrity Chef," Saveur, Mar. 2016.