Cali-Baja Cuisine by Michael A. Gardiner

Michael A. Gardiner’s newest book, Cali-Baja Cuisine: Tijuana Tacos, Ensenada Aquachiles, San Diego Cali Burritos + More (Rizzoli 2023) is a long-awaited cookbook that celebrates the cuisine of the Baja borderlands.

Also the author of Modern Kosher: Global Flavors, New Traditions (Rizzoli 2020), Michael A. Gardiner is a food writer for the San Diego Tribune, Edible San Diego, and he is a Contributing Editor of The Cook’s Cook. Naturally we are long-time fans of his work, but it is easy to objectively appreciate the design and quality of his newest book, as well as his expertise in the subject.

Inspired by the sea, soil, fruit, and vegetables.

Cali-Baja cuisine is built on the natural bounty of the region and the flavors the people love. Gorgeous photos illustrate seafood recipes like Ground Yellowtail Tacos and Puerto Nuevo-Style Lobster Roll Tortas. There are recipes for Pickled Jalapeno Chiles, Pink Pickled Onions, and Mexican Crema to serve with bacon-wrapped Polish kielbasa dressed with ancho-chipotle-mustard sauce. Vegan Lentil Guisado is a classic Mexican lentil soup served with crisp marinated-and-toasted mushroom chips. Recipes like Pork Carnitas with Preserved Lemon Salsa Verde illustrate the influence of Mediterranean cuisines on the food of Baja California and vice versa. People and food, cross the border in both directions.

What’s in a name?

The book offers inspirational flavor combinations and techniques, but the descriptive history of Baja and Alta California is as interesting to read as the actual recipes. The foods of Tijuana and Baja California- much like the foods of San Diego and Southern California- reflect the impact of Baja’s immigrant nature. Cali-Baja Cuisine is an outstanding work, beautifully researched and written. With a wealth of information about the cuisine, and thoughtful, in-depth insights on the mutlti-cultural and cross-cultural influences in the region, it’s a must-have for your bookshelf.

$39.95 hardcover; available in bookstores everywhere and on Amazon.

For more by Michael A. Gardiner, see his articles in The Cook’s Cook.

TJ Polish Dog
Baja and Sonora compete for ownership of the bacon-wrapped hot dogs known as Sonora Dogs or Danger Dogs and by those in Baja as TJ Dogs.