Virtual Memories Show 414:
James Oseland

“Mexico is the North American version of Italy, and Mexico City is the North American version of Rome.”

For the final episode of 2020, James Oseland rejoins the show to celebrate the launch of his World Food series of cookbooks, beginning with World Food: Mexico City (Ten Speed Press). We talk about his first experience with Mexico City, why he makes it his home, why he considers it North America’s version of Rome, what it was like to treat it as though he was visiting it anew for this book (here’s a video), and his love of capturing places through local cooks and the dishes that they make. We get into the food-writing he loves and his broader literary influences, the changes in the food magazine industry, his disinterest in food travel TV, and Mexican cuisine’s propensity for incorporating other culture’s ingredients and foods. We also discuss subtle flavor of chapulinas in guacamole, why James had a pretty good 2020, all things considered, and why I have to make his charred tomato salsa recipe (in hopes that it’ll release my inner cook). Give it a listen! (& check out our 2019 conversation) And go read World Food: Mexico City!

“I’m starting World Food with Mexico City and Paris because they’re equivalents in age and cuisine.”

“I’ve been dreaming of a cookbook series since I was young. I want to recapture that feeling from the Time Life Foods of the World series.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

James Oseland travels extensively in search of the world’s best restaurants, street food stalls, markets, and home cooks. He has been writing about international cultures and their cuisines for decades and was editor in chief of Saveur for eight years, where his work garnered many accolades, including from the James Beard Foundation, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the American Society of Magazine Editors. His cookbook Cradle of Flavor was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times and Good Morning America. He was also a judge for five years on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. His new book is World Food: Mexico City.

Follow James on Twitter and Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of elote preparado by James Roper. Photo of James by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images. Photo of me & James from our 2019 podcast by me. It’s on my instagram.

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