In the book's first chapter: "Essential Flavors of the Mexican Kitchen," Bayless offers 15 recipes—sauces, salsas, adobos, achiote seasoning, corn tortillas, and rajas (a seasoned mixture of roasted chiles, onions, and garlic)—each of which he uses as an instructional device. The one for adobo de chile ancho, for example, teaches us how and why to clean, toast, soak, puree, and strain chiles—techniques that one uses over and over again in Mexican cooking. I also appreciated the sidebars, called "Simple Ideas from My American Home," that accompany each "essential" recipe and are also scattered throughout the book. Anyone who cooks knows that wonderful, spontaneous little dishes can spring from happenstance. They often can't be codified as recipes, but can certainly be turned into informal suggestions, as Bayless does here.