The long-awaited cookbook from Taos food editor Fayne Lutz is finally available, online. M. Elwell Romancito has been working on the collection since the two women first came up with the plan of publishing in 2000. It was going to be released in print, but there were two things which kept Romancito from finalizing the manuscript.
"I was having trouble deciding whether to release the book as a perfect-bound softback or printing it with a comb binding, like so many cookbooks from a bye-gone era, made to lay flat on the counter as the recipes are followed," Romancito said in a statement. "And then I had a hard time sitting down and finalizing the index and page number references. Then it occurred to me, if I released the cookbook online, none of those issues would remain problems."
"In the later years of her life, I helped Fayne put together her recipes and write up the simple, two-paragraph introduction. It was something she could do with her eyes closed. In fact, toward the end, she was nearly blind, but she knew where each recipe was, where it came from and if it was an old favorite when it had run in the paper in the past," Romancito said.
The cookbook's foreword has been penned by former editor and publisher of The Taos News, Billie Blair, who recalls years of working with Lutz.
"She was legend in Taos for her Hot Chinese Chicken Salad, which won the grand prize of $10,000 from the National Broiler Council. Taoseños adopted her as one of their own, naming her the Chamber of Commerce's Woman of the Year in 1990 and a Living Treasure in 1991 and certified her as an adopted norteña by calling her 'The Chile Queen.' She organized the first Taos Chile Cookoff and consulted for the International Chile Cookoff at Universal Studios," Blair writes.
Romancito recalled the process of collecting the recipes.
"As I went through all the recipe clippings Fayne had saved over the decades, I explained to my daughter this was how someone collected recipes before the internet. Her comment was 'how could you find anything?'"
"The Traditional Taos Table" by Fayne Lutz is available free at taostable.com