Diana Kennedy, British food writer devoted to Mexican cuisine, dies

Cookbook author Diana Kennedy at home in Zitacuaro, Mexico in November 1995.

MEXICO CITY — Diana Kennedy, a tart-tongued British food writer devoted to Mexican cuisine, died Sunday. She was 99.

Kennedy spent much of her life learning and preserving the traditional cooking and ingredients of her adopted home, a mission that even in her 80s had her driving hundreds of miles across her adopted country in a rattling truck as she searched remote villages for elusive recipes.

Her nearly dozen cookbooks, including “Oaxaca al Gusto,” which won the 2011 James Beard Award for cookbook of the year, reflect a lifetime of groundbreaking culinary contributions and her effort to collect vanishing culinary traditions, a mission that began long before the rest of the culinary world was giving Mexican cooking the respect she felt it was due.

Her long-time friend Concepción Guadalupe Garza Rodríguez said that Kennedy died peacefully shortly before dawn Sunday at her home in Zitacuaro, about 100 miles west of Mexico City.

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