"The Julia Child of Mexico? Oh dear, what nonsense." Diana Kennedy is making her way briskly across the small central square of Zitacuaro, a town of about 150,000 in the pine-forested mountains of northeast Michoacan state. "Of course I'm flattered by the comparison," she adds, "but it's totally inaccurate." I have just arrived to spend a few days at Kennedy's home, in the countryside not far from here, observing the British-born authority on Mexican cuisine—renowned cook, ethnographer, naturalist, and perfectionist—at work. The slight 89-year-old calls out to me over her shoulder as she goes; it's all I can do to keep up. We advance into the maze of the covered market, and vendors to the left and to the right call out to Kennedy as she moves from stall to stall, vocally appraising what's on offer, in a crisp British accent that seems not to have diminished in the 55 years since she first arrived in Mexico.