25 August 2012

Weekend Cooking: The Truck Food Cookbook by John T. Edge

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I love to cook, and cook at least 300 nights a year. But even the most avid home chef needs a break once in a while. That's why I'm jealous of all of you who live within easy fetching distance of good truck food. Until I move to bigger place or until the nearby college town gets on the ball, I will content myself with the delightful and very readable The Truck Food Cookbook by John T. Edge.

The subtitle on the eye-catching red-and-white cover captures the contents perfectly: "150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels." From hot dogs to roast duck tacos, from Los Angeles to Durham, North Carolina, The Truck Food Cookbook has something for every taste. This book about "food on wheels" covers the country and all types of meals for any time of the day.

The book is stuffed full of playful photos of the trucks, the cities, and the owner/chefs. You'll also find tons of pictures of mouth-watering treats, all set in a colorful and easy-to-follow design. The Truck Food Cookbook can be read as a food guide, as a look at Americana, and of course as a cookbook.

Throughout you'll find great stories, such as how a Polish sculptor turned jewelry designer ended up as the owner/chef of a crepe cart in Philadelphia. You'll also read profiles of some of the top mobile food cities in America, complete with maps and fun facts. For example, did you know that groups of food trucks in Portland, Oregon, were called pods? Or that Austin, Texas, licenses more than a thousand mobile food vendors a year?

Although one chapter is called "Unexpected Pleasures," what I found surprising were some of the city–food match-ups. I wouldn't have thought Minneapolis would be the place to find fried green tomato salad or that San Francisco would be known for its food truck falafels. Of course the food cart classics are also included, such as cheesesteaks in Philadelphia and tacos in Houston.

One of the hits of The Truck Food Cookbook is that Edge included recipes for food cart extras. You'll find dessert toppings; all kinds of salsas, sauces, and spreads; and even Creole cream cheese. Thus even if you want to make your own family favorite hamburger, you can give it a makeover by serving one of the truck food condiments on the side.

You could spend days going through John T. Edge's The Truck Food Cookbook just studying the beautiful photos and reading the "ramblings." After you mark all the recipes that call to you, you'll be ready to head to the kitchen and make your own mobile dishes. Or, if you're really ambitious, perhaps you'll be inspired to find a used food truck (Edge suggests looking on eBay) and go into business for yourself.

I'm so happy it's just about tomatillo season around here because have a weakness for green sauce. This salsa verde recipe from the Tacos el Galuzo food truck, which vends in Los Angeles, looks easy to make.

Salsa Verde
makes about 1 cup
  • 20 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 3 jalapeƱo peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Salt
1. Place 3 quarts of water in a large pot and let come to a boil. Add the tomatillos, jalapeƱos, cilantro, and garlic, reduce the heat and let simmer until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove the tomatillo mixture from the heat and drain it, setting aside 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Let the tomatillo mixture and reserved liquid cool.

2. Put the cooled tomatillo mixture in a blender and puree until smooth, adding small amounts of the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to achieve the right consistency. Season the salsa with salt to taste.

Buy The Truck Food Cookbook at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Workman Publishing, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780761156161
Rating: B+
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Chinoiseries 8/25/12, 6:04 AM  

We seriously need more food trucks in The Netherlands. The only ones I know about sell deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls or fries :/ I love that this cookbook also contains "ramblings" ;)

Too Fond 8/25/12, 6:08 AM  

I love fresh salsa--the jarred kind just doesn't hold a candle to it, and so easy to make! I think I could eat it on everything. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Marg 8/25/12, 6:28 AM  

Okay, so without googling it I have no idea what a tomatillo is or why it has husks! lol

caite 8/25/12, 6:34 AM  

I have never made anything with tomatillos...I need to, because I love salsa verde.

bermudaonion 8/25/12, 6:54 AM  

We're actually getting more and more food trucks around here! I need to explore this cookbook.

Tina 8/25/12, 7:14 AM  

Like the looks of that book and I certainly love tomatillas. We don't get them year round here but I like to gran some when it's "season" and make salsa too. They sure are tiny and sometimes sticky when peeling!

Amanda 8/25/12, 8:26 AM  

How fascinating! Food trucks have gotten really big here in SA. There are several food truck parks around the city, and at Jason's work, they come for lunch on Tuesday and Friday. There are some really good ones, too, like one that serves authentic Colombian food - the owners are from Colombia - and it's soooo good. It's funny, because back when the food trucks started coming, there would only be one or two each week. Now, there are 20+ twice a week, with a tented pavilion with benches for the people who come out to eat (since it's so hot). The parking lot is always full of guests on food truck days. :D

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 8/25/12, 8:26 AM  

I couldn't play this week, but I came over to see what's cooking! The salsa sounds delicious, I love tomatillo's. Really good with avocado and grilled steak. Have to try this one. Checking out the cookbook!

(Diane) bookchickdi 8/25/12, 8:43 AM  

I took my sister-in-law on a food truck tour last year in lower Manhattan and it was an eye-opening experience. We tried lots of things we never would have thought of ordering in a restaurant, it was wonderful. If you ever find yourself in NYC, i recommend taking one of the food truck tours.

jama 8/25/12, 8:47 AM  

Did they include any food trucks from Honolulu? They've been a fixture along the harbor for as long as I can remember, only we always called them "lunch wagons." The Hawaii Plate Lunch is a big part of local food culture. Thanks for sharing this book; I'd love to read all the ramblings from around the country!

Beth F 8/25/12, 8:53 AM  

@Jama: no, nothing from Honolulu, but when I worked there in the 70s, I remember getting mahi mahi and other goodies from street/beach vendors. Oh and the boiled peanut cart, which was near my bus stop -- I used to get them as an after-work treat.

Tanya Patrice 8/25/12, 9:09 AM  

There's no food trucks in my part of NY either. And actually, I think they would make a fantastic (and cheaper) alternative to the fast food joints that the kids like to beg me to go to.

Molly 8/25/12, 9:36 AM  

I, too, wish I lived in an area where I could partake of food truck fare.

This book sounds fantastic and I look forward to checking it out myself. Thank you for the marvelous review (as usual!)

Anonymous,  8/25/12, 11:25 AM  

Food carts are becoming more and more popular here, but I never seem to be in a food cart heavy part of the city around meal times. But a couple weeks ago we went to a food cart festival and mmmm it was delicious.

Fay 8/25/12, 11:33 AM  

Somehow I think this will not go down well with my South Beach diet. Sure could use a breakfast burrito right about now, though.

Joy Weese Moll 8/25/12, 11:41 AM  

Fun idea for a cookbook!

Peggy Ann 8/25/12, 12:30 PM  

It does sound like a fun cookbook. Rick Sebak from our PBS station in Pittsburgh did a show on food trucks once and it was wonderful!

Vicki 8/25/12, 1:16 PM  

Love Salsa Verde...& food trucks. They're all over where we live.

Heather 8/25/12, 1:54 PM  

I watched the Food truck show on tv and sent my sister in search of the Perogy Boyz in Calgary. She missed them one day, but will try again. I am jealous of her. Is it worth driving half way across the country? her review will tell.

Heidenkind 8/25/12, 1:58 PM  

I've never seen a food truck around here, so I doubt my city allows them. There are tons of people who sell their own burritos, tamales, etc. going door-to-door, though (which may not be strictly legal).

Cecelia 8/25/12, 3:09 PM  

I'm lucky enough to work in downtown DC, which is practically a food truck paradise. I love the empanada truck and the popsicle trucks that occasionally stop by my office. What fun to have a cookbook dedicated to that food!

Heather S-G 8/25/12, 6:52 PM  

I actually already dream of owning a food truck...sigh... This sounds like a fun book, I'm off to check my library's website!

Carole 8/25/12, 11:10 PM  

Thanks for hosting yet again. I have linked in a marinated tuna dish (in fact I dopily put it into last weekend's party but then put it in again here - sorry). This week's Food on Friday is collecting posts involving marinades and rubs so do have a peep if you would like to see what it there - have about 32 links at the time of this comment. Have a great week.

Ps I would be honoured if you followed Carole's Chatter but don't worry if you are too busy.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 8/26/12, 8:57 AM  

I love this book and the stories it tells!

As much as I want to cook from it, I also want to VISIT some of these food trucks - yum!

Peaceful Reader 8/26/12, 11:05 AM  

I propose a road trip! We have lots of BBQ and taco food trucks here in Iowa and I would love to visit and eat at all the varieties listed here.

This salsa looks easy and fresh. I wrote about making canned salsa.

Julie P. 8/26/12, 2:28 PM  

This was a very fun and informative cookbook! Loved the grapefruit cocktail!

Vasilly 8/26/12, 8:50 PM  

You're in awe of those of us who live around food trucks, but I'm in awe of you cooking 300+ nights a year! How do you do it? I'm going to try to the salsa verde recipe. It's so hard to find a good one.

Daryl 8/27/12, 8:54 AM  

i love the varied and interesting food trucks we have clogging the streets here in the Big Apple .. especially the dessert trucks ;)

Anonymous,  8/27/12, 9:09 PM  

We have a food truck (KunFusion) that appears occasionally near where I work. Their menu is hilarious...I ordered the Kluck Fu the one time I ate there.

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