Diana is well into her advanced 80’s and still as zesty as a pickled jalapeno (there was that time she kicked Rick Bayless out of her car). But more, she possesses the air of a person who deeply, thoroughly lives her calling. She’s a missionary, all about preserving and passing on the diverse regional cooking styles of Mexico, with an almost fierce respect for its rich tradition and history.
Partly due to the presence of age and a distinguished British accent, you can’t help feeling an aura of wisdom around her. It makes you pay attention. I took notes, and the few things that stuck with me are surprisingly simple and almost Zen-like:
Good cooking needs salt
Go easy on the garlic
And always use white onions in Mexican cooking.
It was good timing, since I recently received a sample box of carefully packed, hefty heirloom tomatoes from Frieda’s, the specialty produce company.
I was skeptical of these tomatoes grown in a climate somewhere where it’s already summer time, but I let them ripen for a few days before slicing into them for this Diana Kennedy-inspired salsa. They were absolutely delicious – juicy, sweet and textured as perfectly as if they’d been pulled off the vine in my backyard. It made me realize once again the beauty in simplicity when it comes to cooking – all it took was a few raw ingredients. And a little salt…
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, preferably different colors
- 1 small green chile pepper, such as jalapeno or serrano (my fave and bit hotter)
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped white onion
- Salt to taste - start with 1/4 teaspoon
- Pinch of cumin
- Juice of 1 lime
- Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Slice the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Put them into a bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and gently stir together, tasting for salt or acidity from the lime juice.