The author could not have selected a better title than “The Traditional Taos Table” for this collection of recipes straight from the talented hand of the late Fayne Lutz, a journalist, food columnist and nationally known prize winning cook.
Because the daughter of Fayne’s sorority sister was my roommate during my early days in Taos in the mid-70s, we were frequent guests at her Taos table. Whether she was cooking New Mexico green chile or Oklahoma staples like fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, you could count on a delicious and plentiful meal served with graciousness.
Fayne entrusted author Melody Romancito with her cache of food columns, many of them appearing weekly in The Taos News for more than three decades, and handwritten recipes, and the author has carefully selected the best to share with people who want to cook delicious food on a budget. You will find recipes ranging from Torta de Huevos to Enchiladas. Fayne believed the right spices and freshest ingredients made the luxury dish and the right measurements made the downhome dinner. She also believed in plentiful servings and robust table conversations.
Cooking outside as a Girl Scout in Missouri began Fayne’s road to food queen. She took a myriad of gourmet cooking classes as she traveled the United States with her husband, Ray Lutz, a pilot for TWA Airlines. She also studied with chefs Michael Field and James Beard. When they settled in Taos, she taught gourmet cooking to Taoseños in her home, and escaped to the couple’s cabin in Angel Fire, where she turned out fine dining on a wood stove.
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.
Here are recipes you can make your own as staples for the family and fine dining for guests. Fayne left us a treasure that can make every table groan and every taste a pleasure.
– Billie Blair, journalist/publisher, consulting specialist in marketing and public policy