Pati Jinich cooks up something special with ‘La Frontera’

Rick's Reviews

Pati Jinish explores culture and cuisine near the Rio Grande River on “La Frontera with Pati Jinish.” (Photo courtesy of PBS)

James Beard Award-winning chef Pati Jinich has been thinking and dreaming of being part of a television program that looks at the culture and cuisine that can be found along the United States and Mexican border. Her passion for such a project comes from her being born in Mexico and living in the United States.

Her dream has finally come true as the two-part special, “La Frontera with Pati Jinich” will air at 9 p.m. Oct. 15 and 22 on Valley PBS. Jinich shares moments with people from the region, taps into her own binational Mexican and American identity and cooks some dishes particular to the area.

Jinich says, “I come from a long line of immigrants to Mexico. So I have that DNA of belonging to different worlds, even if you are living in one at the same time. So I have always been very attracted to the border, and have been crossing it to share Mexico and the U.S. for over a decade.

“We got to the border, and I think one of the most surprising things to me was how much I felt at home. You’re always thinking that you have to negotiate, as a Mexican American, being a Mexican, being an American, having roots in both places. I feel like we all in America have these different parts of who we are. Everybody has an immigrant in their family. Everybody is married to someone from a different culture.”

The aim of “La Frontera” is to show that it is not just two countries connecting or clashing or rubbing into each other. But, there is a universe of possibilities where so many things can exist at the same time.

Jinich is well aware of the cuisine that exists on both sides of the border having written three cookbooks on Mexican cooking and has explored Mexican cuisine for over a decade. What she has found is the idea of Mexican food in the U.S. – TexMex food in particular – has evolved.

“When I first moved to the U.S., I used to think, what is TexMex? Is it trying to be Mexican, but it’s something different? I realized that Mexican food really has no borders,” Jinich says. “Mexican food in the U.S. is incredibly delicious, authentic and its own beast. It is regional Mexican food that has adapted to another country, another region, other tastes.

“You see Mexican communities all over the U.S. that are adapting in the toolkit that they bring from home and enriching it with what they find in America.”

 “La Frontera with Pati Jinich” is being broadcast by PBS as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: The Kristine Carlson Story,” 8 p.m. Oct. 16, Lifetime

Heather Locklear tried reading Kristine Carlson’s book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” before she agreed to star in the Lifetime movie based on the self-help book. That preparation proved tough as Locklear found herself crying so much she could not keep reading.

Carslon wrote the book after the death of her husband Dr. Richard Carlson (Jason MacDonald). The pair has an amazing life with their two daughters.  Her husband’s death crippled Carlson as she was forced to navigate the uncharted territory of becoming a single mom while dealing with pressure to become the new face and voice of the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff brand.

According to Carlson, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is designed to be a life philosophy that should be practiced on a daily basis. She has found her books have sold extremely well in times of crisis.

“People need to get back to the basics and, certainly, what we’ve all been through this last two years shows us that life is very basic,” Carlson says. “If you don’t get back to the basics you’re going to get lost in all of the worry and the concerns and the troubles that we see ahead of us.”

Locklear finally found help in playing the role by meeting with Carlson.  The meeting was important because the Lifetime movie pressed Locklear emotionally. She found it particularly difficult to handle the scene where Carlson gets the telephone call to tell her that her husband has died.

Carlson’s advice to Locklear as to how to handle the scene was to think of it as being told that her child had died. Locklear could not handle the scene that way because there was no way she could handle thinking about hearing of her own child’s death.

“That stopped me in my tracks,” Locklear says. “I can’t go there.”

Locklear went back to the book and had lengthy conversations with Carlson, the producers and the director. They finally found a way for Locklear to handle the deeply emotional scene without having to dig deep into one of her own great fears.

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