When it comes to food and culture, I’m all about LA. Not L.A. Southern Louisiana cooking is my thing. I own cookbook after cookbook on the subject and I’m always looking for more cookbooks on Creole and Cajun cooking. When you bring culture into a book full of recipes it adds so much more value to the book. I’m not just looking through a New Orleans cookbook, I’m reading it. I’m taking in the stories that come with each recipe; I’m taking in the ingredients of each recipe; I reading a book on history. And a good majority of the cookbooks out there lack that. They may have a story or theme that goes along with the book itself, but it usually fails at why food is important – the culture in which it comes from and the traditions in which the food is served.
The Grand Central Market Cookbook by Adele Yellin and Kevin West does exactly what I like in a book. The authors took me to their historic marketplace in downtown Los Angeles and not only showed me the multiple cuisines that have graced that world, but they also showed the true blend of the cultures that have made the Grand Central Market a fascinating place for what is now their one hundred year anniversary.
Inside the cookbook, you’ll find 85 recipes from many of the vendors inside the market. The chapters are broken down into ‘Breakfast’, ‘Tacos’, ‘Carbs’, ‘Happy Hour’, ‘Meat & Fish’, ‘Vegetables’, and ‘Sweets’. Then, each recipe within the chapter is by one of the vendors at the Grand Central Market. You get the vendor name, like Eggslut for example, and where their booth is located at in the market. Eggslut is at ‘stall D-1‘. They do this for every vendor in the book. And these recipes are amazing. The Huevos Rancheros from Jose Chiquito (stall A-6 by-the-way) is amazing. The recipes are easy to follow and to understand. The majority of the recipes come with a story from the vendor and how the dish came about or got its name, or tips to help you at home. Some of the recipes require specialty ingredients that you may not find at your local grocery store. For example, the Oyster Shooters by The Oyster Gourmet (stall E-13) asks for mirin, yuzu juice, daikon, tobiko, and baby mizuna greens. If you’re a big oyster lover and you serve them at home, you may want to locate these ingredients. But most of the ingredients are easy to find. The recipes are easy to follow and they don’t seem overly complex.
The recipes the main part of the cookbook. But I think that the strength of the book is in the stories of the people. The book shows (with incredible photographs) and tells about this melting pot of cultures and cuisines. The first 30-some pages of this 255-page book are about the history of the market. Then throughout the book, you’ll find a page here-and-there adding to the story.
I was given a copy of The Grand Central Market Cookbook by Adele Yellin and Kevin West in exchange for an honest review. It’s a remarkable book. I really enjoyed going through the book. This cookbook is staying right on my main shelf and I plan to keep cooking recipes from it.
And who knows, maybe on one vacation, I’ll skip LA and head over to L.A. to experience their culture and cuisines.
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Keep the red beans cookin’!