1903: “The Landmarks Club Cook Book.” A collection of recipes edited by the sage of the Southwest, Charles Fletcher Lummis, that included more than 40 Mexican recipes, this first-of-its-kind effort was sold to help repair Southern California’s crumbling missions.
1923: “Mexican Cookery for American Homes.” This uncredited pamphlet published by theGebhardt’sChili Powder Co. would be published in new editions for decades afterward and was the first widely released manual for American households.
1931: “Historic Cookery,” Fabiola Cabeza de Vaca Gilbert. One of the earliest collections of New Mexico recipes, part of a pioneering effort by Latinas to preserve the dying traditions of the Land of Enchantment.
1944: “Elena’s Famous Spanish and Mexican Recipes.” Elena Zelayeta’s personal story is inspiring enough: A child of Spanish immigrants who fled Mexico during the revolution and then lost everything in the Great Depression, she then went blind yet forged a long career writing Mexican cookbooks. This was her first book, which made her a national sensation for decades.
1972: “The Cuisines of Mexico,” Diana Kennedy. The game changer: The book that boldly proclaimed that Mexican food in the United States was a fraud and that Americans should eat only “authentic” Mexican food.
1986: “Modern Southwest Cuisine,” John Sedlar. The Southwestern cuisine movement of the 1980s captured by its most talented acolyte, who continues to wow today at his Los Angeles restaurants Rivera and Playa.
2004: “The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos.” James Beard-winning reporter Robb Walsh’s brilliant, witty riposte to those who say Tex-Mex is an abomination: part history, part recipes, all magnificent.