16 July 2011

Weekend Cooking: Try This by Danyelle Freeman

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


One of my favorite food blogs is the New York–centric Restaurant Girl by Danyelle Freeman. Although I'm rarely in New York, I still love reading about food and the city through her eyes (or is that through her stomach?). Plus you gotta love anyone who brings must-have gadgets to your attention, such as the s'more maker that was recently featured or the combo toaster/egg poacher from last year. Some of you may know Freeman from The Food Network, where she's been a judge for Iron Chef America and Top Chef.

When I learned that Freeman had written a book, Try This: A Modern Guide to Global Eating, I wondered if it would simply be a rehash of her blog or a collection of her food critic articles. I couldn't have been more wrong. Instead, Try This is—as the subtitle states—a country-by-country guide to eating the world's cuisine . . . no matter where you live. And in Restaurant Girl style, this is no hoity-toity tome of how to spend $200 on steak and a salad (although she talks about fine dining) but more like a descriptive menu dictionary:
I'm writing this book for anyone who's ever looked at a menu and had a question. Anyone who's had a plate put in front of him and wondered what the hell [he was] about to eat. Just because a cuisine is foreign to you doesn't mean you have to feel like a tourist at the table.
Whether you're in a British-style pub wondering what bangers and mash are (sausages, mashed potatoes, and onion gravy) or thinking about trying chaat (Indian snacks) from a food cart or looking over the lists of cheese and wine in an exclusive Manhattan cheese cave, have no fear, Freeman has you covered. She's been there before you, clearing a path so you can order with confidence or at least know that you're not the only one to have been stumped by a menu.

Thanks to Freeman's personal, chatty style, you'll feel as if you were getting tips from your BFF. For example, you'll learn the correct way to pick up sushi, how to use the wasabi, when to eat the ginger, and the proper way to dip into the soy sauce. Headed to a Middle Eastern restaurant? Freeman assures you that she too "could have used a kebab manual" the first time she went to one of her now-favorite spots. Take advantage of her decoder, and you'll know just what to ask for.

Throughout the book are "Tasty Morsel" boxes with fun food facts, like how margherita pizza got its name and Hemmingway's favorite daiquiri when he lived in Cuba. Freeman shares her thoughts on how to negotiate a restaurant, your rights as a diner, and more in several longer features. Finally, each of the fourteen chapters ends with a section called "Table Settings and Modern Manners," which provides practical information and alerts you to good behavior.
  • When in Spain, don't put your elbows on the table and don't let your hands stray out of sight under the table.
  • When at a Korean restaurant, don't expect to see a knife.
  • In Greece, all food on the table is for sharing, no matter who ordered it.
Whether you read Try This from beginning to end or scope out the appropriate cuisine chapter a couple hours before you head out the door for dinner, you'll be amused, you'll make friends with Danyelle Freeman, and you'll feel worldly wise when get to the restaurant.

Give it to me quickly: Everything you've always wanted to know about restaurant eating but were afraid to ask.

Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Try This at Powell's
Try This at Book Depository
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Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, June 2011
ISBN-13: 9780061881787
YTD: 66
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Kate 7/16/11, 6:17 AM  

Ok, this looks like a book that I need to get my hands on. Sounds like an excellent (and instructional) read.

TheBookGirl 7/16/11, 6:18 AM  

What a great idea. I know that I could certainly use this book on alot of different levels -- to help me with new cuisines, and to give me more confidence when dining out in what I consider to be intimidating restaurants.

I watch alot of the Food Network shows, but I don't recognize her name. I'm going to watch out for her now :)

Your review was wonderful. I hope I enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed reading your thoughts :)

Uniflame 7/16/11, 6:33 AM  

This book sounds like so much fun! It might take me a while to buy it since I have so many cooking books on my wishlist, but who knows! I am surely interested to learn about the food culture from all different countries.

Diann 7/16/11, 7:04 AM  

What a fun book! Thanks for hosting Beth and have a wonderful weekend!

DTL Herbs 7/16/11, 7:06 AM  

First time linking up. Thank you for hosting!

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook 7/16/11, 7:59 AM  

Sounds like a great book! I like her style, wondering what the hell is on the plate, LOL! And I'd enjoy the food facts! I'm sure I'd enjoy the book!

bermudaonion 7/16/11, 8:18 AM  

This sounds fabulous! I don't think I could relax if I was eating in a restaurant in Spain - I'd be too worried about where my hands were at all times.

Michelle 7/16/11, 8:31 AM  

A s'more maker? How can you possibly go wrong with something like that? Sincerely.

Julie P. 7/16/11, 8:42 AM  

Love the cover. That, alone, makes me want to pick up this book.

Molly 7/16/11, 8:57 AM  

This sounds delightful --- and now I am going to visit her blog :)

Swapna 7/16/11, 9:12 AM  

This sounds like a great book to pick up, especially before you travel. I'll have to keep it in mind!

Nan 7/16/11, 9:16 AM  

What a perfect book for traveling foodies!

Beth 7/16/11, 9:27 AM  

Interesting idea. I know tons of people that won't eat stuff just because they don't know what it is!

caite 7/16/11, 9:29 AM  

I wonder if you could make s'mores in a Griddler....

Beth S. 7/16/11, 10:07 AM  

This book sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing!

Louise 7/16/11, 10:23 AM  

I have actually wondered why it was called a margherita pizza! Now I know. It sounds an interesting book.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti 7/16/11, 10:33 AM  

This sounds like an informative book and one that every international traveler would enjoy. There definitely is a protocol in many countries as to restaurant savviness and etiquette.

Lori L 7/16/11, 10:45 AM  

Try This sounds like a very interesting book full of great information. Thanks for bringing to my attention!

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 7/16/11, 10:55 AM  

THIS looks amazing!!! I love the cover, too. How creative!

Margot 7/16/11, 11:46 AM  

This book looks like it would be great fun to read. I do know who she is from Iron Chef. I can't wait to read this one.

Beth(bookaholicmom) 7/16/11, 11:48 AM  

This book sounds very interesting. I like reading food facts. Wear are huge Food Network watchers here. I will have to check out her blog. A s'more-maker sounds like a must have gadget to me.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 7/16/11, 12:39 PM  

How fun! I love the food flags on the cover :)

tanabata 7/16/11, 2:08 PM  

Trying new foods can be exciting but intimidating. This book sounds both fun and informative.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 7/16/11, 3:51 PM  

This sounds good and a smores maker? Uhhh.... hello? Whats not to love? LOL

I may need to check this out - I have a scheduled stop at Barnes and Noble tomorrow after the bike ride.

Joy Weese Moll 7/16/11, 4:31 PM  

This sounds like a great read -- one to whet the appetite for both food and travel.

Gilion at Rose City Reader 7/16/11, 9:17 PM  

That looks like a great book!

My post definitely falls into the "random thoughts" category today. Please stick with it -- I would really appreciate input!

Peaceful Reader 7/16/11, 11:34 PM  

This sounds like a great read! Thanks for hosting and for reviewing such an interesting title.

I've always wanted to know if I'm eating sushi correctly as I try to fit the whole roll in my mouth!

Heather @ girlichef.com 7/17/11, 8:33 AM  

Oh, this sounds like one I would love...I'm off to explore further. Thanks so much for hosting...I linked up my review of Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele today :)

Unknown 7/17/11, 6:27 PM  

Whoops! Wrong link - please delete - putting the right one in now. Sorry!

Bonnie 7/17/11, 7:40 PM  

This sounds like a great book and I'm definitely going to check out her blog.

Jennifer 7/19/11, 2:54 PM  

I love going out to eat and I love trying new types of food. However, I am always cautious and go with someone who knows how and what to order. It sounds like after picking up this book, I won't necessarily need that security blanket.

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