Probably by way of demonstrating the fleeting (and fickle) nature of fame, a cookbook I got last weekend is by the proprietor of a LA area restaurant I've never heard of either: John Sedlar of Saint Estephe. The pub date is exactly 20 years ago, the book was published by Simon and Schuster, and there's a big blurb on the back by Craig Claiborne that is more than a little telling about the era and its awful excesses: "This is, to my mind, the most interesting of all cookbooks that deal with Southwest cooking. It is marvelously innovative...How about Salmon Mousse Tamales with Ground Nixtamal and Cilantro Cream Sauce...or Apricot Ravioli with Yerba Buena Créme Anglaise? John Sedlar is one of America's treasures, a genius in the kitchen."
Okay. A little more than 20 years ago, a friend in Chicago took us to a joint called Topolobampo, where I had my first (and so far best) bowl of menudo, which I hope never to forget. Rick Bayless is still going from strength to strength, still cooking the real deal. I have no idea where this other "genius in the kitchen" might be, but I seriously doubt that I'll ever cook any of the silly recipes in his book.