Patricia Quintana, champion of Mexican cuisine
NEW YORK — Patricia Quintana, a chef and author whose work exalted the range and sophistication of Mexican cuisine, died Monday at her home in Mexico City. She was 72.
Her son Patricio Pasquel Fernandez, who confirmed the death, said Ms. Quintana was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma several years ago.
Beginning with her first cookbook, “La Cocina Es un Juego” (“The Kitchen Is a Game”), in 1979, Ms. Quintana’s work pushed back against the stereotypes of Mexican cuisine with persistence and finesse, deepening the collective appreciation for regional flavors in her country and abroad.
Over several decades, she wrote more than 28 books on Mexican food as well as long-running columns for Vogue México and national newspapers.
In 1987, JeanMarie Brownson of the Chicago Tribune called “The Taste of Mexico,” Ms. Quintana’s first book published in English, “one of the most exciting cookbooks we have seen in years,” praising its well-rendered recipes, lush photography, and attention to regionality.
Traveling across Mexico to document, research, and adapt recipes, Ms. Quintana often looked to local producers and cooks for practical knowledge, studying the indigenous ingredients she found in home kitchens, whether along stony waterfronts or across agave-speckled flatlands, in adobe pueblos or apartment buildings.
In her writing, she drew from this firsthand reporting but also from the other kinds of knowledge she valued: stories from her grandmothers’ kitchens in Oaxaca and Veracruz, regional Mexican mythology and art, Aztec poetry, and song lyrics.
“She always kept her mind open to the new,” Mexican chef Enrique Olvera said in a telephone interview. “She was deeply in love with our cuisine, but also deeply in love with new things.”