Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review of John T Edge The Truck Food Cookbook

The Truck Food Cookbook
150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels

John T. Edge

* I received a copy of this title from NetGalley for review purposes. I received no compensation for this review. All opinions are my honest thoughts and feelings.*

I come from Chicago. I bought hot dogs from a cart down the street. People would line up as soon as it parked. Puerto Rican food from a truck in Humbodlt Park. Mexican food, well all over the place. Tamales in the morning and elotes, sandia con chili y limon, mangos, fruit cups during the day ending with, to die for, tacos. All purchased from food carts and trucks. I love these foods. So when I saw this book I knew I had to check it out. In my review when I say a recipe is from a food truck what I am referring to is that food truck is where the food is served. The actual recipe may or may not be from that food truck.

The book opens with a little bit of the author's history with truck food. It was interesting to read his experiences with food trucks, which included his own adventure as a food cart owner/operator. He then goes into the various places in the Untied States he visited. We have photographs of the food, trucks and people and we have recipes. If you have not visited a food truck I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised at what is served. Since I cannot afford to go on a food truck vacation across America, (a dream I now have thanks to this book), I am ecstatic at having  the recipes available.  

Our first adventure is with fries which begins in Portland. My mouth was watering at the photo of the fries. I am not the biggest french fry lover. Actually I am a french fry snob. They have to be perfect fries for me. So the first recipe of the book was the first recipe I tried, all the way down to the Tarragon and Anchovy Mayonnaise. It was out of the world. They also have  a recipe called Portland Poutine. Talk about awesomesauce! These potatoes are to die for.  If you are in Portland I would suggest finding the food truck, Potato Champion. I want to visit Portland just to find this truck. John has thoughtfully provided a map of downtown Portland which shows the locations of the food trucks as of the writing of the book. The author goes on to various other places including California and Washington for more fries. The fries are not always made with the standard white potato either. There are recipes for sweet potatoes, yucca and chickpeas. Oh the variety! Then he hits Texas, Wisconsin, California and Oregon for a variety of fried pies. The recipes are truly awesome. For those going, 'oh no fried food!', I am guessing you can bake some of these. In my opinion not as wonderful as the fried but I believe you can make it work if you want to experiment. 

What's that? You are wondering if you can find a good waffle? Take a gander at chapter 2.  No I am definitely not a health foodie. I enjoy healthy eating but junk food has its my heart and stomach. Good eats are to be enjoyably eaten. This stop at Parker's Waffles and Coffee almost made me faint. Sausage Gravy and Waffles. Holy mackeral Batman! Now you know I am from Chicago but my family has lived in Kentucky since the 1700's. Sausage gravy - uh nothing better. On a waffle? You have won my heart. Just when you think it can get no better, the author takes us to Austin Texas to Lucky J's where we can get waffle tacos and Croque Monsieur which is chicken, swiss cheese and ham on a waffle. If any of you Texans are wondering yes, there is a map of downtown Austin locations. There are also recipes from places in New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Chapter 3 brings us Brunch which we have in Oregon, (where most of the recipes seem to come from), Pennsylvania, Washington and Texas. The map here is of downtown Seattle. Here we find recipes such as Nopalitos and Egg Tacos from El Camion in Seattle, (nopalitos is prickly pear cactus - this recipe is delicious. I highly recommend it), and an egg, cheese, broccoli rabe sandwich from Mickey D's Grill In Philadelphia. 

Unexpected Pleasures are to be found in Chapter 4. Here I found recipes for food you really do not associate with food trucks at all. My favorite recipes came from Santa Rosa Tacos de Barbacoa in Austin Texas. I made the Barbacoa de Borrego and the Consume de Borrego. It was a treat for me. I have not had Barbacoa since I moved to Alaska. Another unique recipe was for Spam Musubi from Marination Mobile in Seattle. I have Spam. I never thought of making it this way. Yum! Greens With Turkey Necks was a nice surprise. I never dreamed that is served off a food truck but Asian Soul Kitchen in Los Angeles serves it up. In this chapter we find a map of food trucks in New York and Madison Wisconsin. 

Sandwiches are Chapter 5's delight. Food truck locations are Philadelphia and San Francisco. I made the Cheese steak Sandwich from Mickey D's Grill in Philadelphia. Omgosh the goodness of this! The Cubano Sandwich from  The Texas Cuban in Austin was amazing.I don't think yoou have lived until you have eaten a Sloppy Jerk Pork Sandwich, (recipe from The Jamerica Restaurant in Madison Wisconsin). 

Chapter 6 gives us what we expect from a food truck - hot dogs. Now I know a lot of people consider hot dogs to be the food of choice only if you are a kid or you have run out of places to go eat. But I love hot dogs. Maybe it was all the hot dogs my mom bought us from the cart when we went shopping. Or the baseball hot dogs,. I don't know but a good hot dog for me is comfort food at its finest. I admit I am also a hot dog snob. It was difficult for me to try the hot dogs in this section. Not because the recipes were difficult, (in truth you will be amazed at the ease of the majority of recipes in this book), but because in Chicago we do dogs a certain way and that is it. So once I worked up my mind to accept trying them out I discovered the guys over at Dogtown dogs in Venice California have a dog I really like. And they include a recipe for crispy fried onions to top it with. You know crispy fried onions - they come in a plastic container and you top the holiday green bean casserole with them. These are easy to make and so much better. I will be making them instead of buying now. In Minneapolis there is a food truck that makes breakfast dogs. Yes I said breakfast. But what is even more awesome than the dogs is the food truck itself. I am talking about The Magic Bus Cafe. Holy hot dogs! There is a fantastic photo of the inside of this bus you have to see. There is also a photo of the owners, sisters Cathy Lockyear and Chrissy Russell, dressed as hot dogs. Hysterical. I am betting this is a fun place to eat. I really want to go there. Another hot dog recipe that was awesome is Sonoran Hot Dog from El Guero Canelo in Tucson. A bit messy but total awesomesauce. This chapter also has recipes for that other staple ...Burgers. The Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger is a bit labor intensive but if you don't live in Portland and can't get to Brunch Box than it is worth the trouble to make it at home. Another recipe that takes a bit of cooking but is so worth it is the Morning Burger from Only Burger in Durham N.C. If you like fried green tomatoes this is your burger. I happen to love them and was delighted to see the recipe for them included. Food Truck locations are Tucson Arizona and Durham North Carolina

Tacos have been a food truck staple in Chicago for a number of years. There is a place in Chicago on the north side that has tacos so wonderful people are always standing around eating. I miss that food cart. Chapter 7 is the taco chapter. Yay! I am going to just suggest you make every recipe in this section. I did. To note though, there are recipes for avocado crema and chipotle sauce as well salsas you will definitely want to make. I enjoyed the crema and chipotle sauce on hamburgers as well as the tacos. You will also find the recipe for making those carrots and jalapenos you find in every Mexican restaurant.  Food Truck locations are Houston Texas and Los Angeles.

Chapter 8 brings me a surprise. I had no idea that there are sweet food trucks! Now that's what I'm talking about. Cupcakes on wheels. Woohoo! I love the Velvet Balls recipe from Holy Cacao in Austin Texas. I would be buying these daily if I lived there. There are also recipes for cookies, s'mores, donuts, ice cream, fried pie pastry and Shaker Lemon Pie. Oh the goodness! Food truck location is Minneapolis Minnesota.

At the end of the book is a recounting of the authors adventure in selling hot dogs in New Orleans. That was some funny reading. Make sure you read that. You will not only laugh but you will come away with a deeper appreciation of food truck vendors. That is a rough job. I think i will stick to being a customer. 

I enjoyed this book tremendously. The recipes are easy to follow and well written. None of the ones I made were hard for me to make. The ingredients were fairly easy for me to get and I am in  small town Alaska where everything comes in by barge or plane. Trust me we do not have every food ingredient out there and some that we do get the price is so high we need to promise our first born to afford them. That I could find and afford all the ingredients for the recipes I chose to make was a bonus for me. There is much more included in the book. The author has included bits from various food trucks, recounted his adventures travelling around, (he was held hostage and nearly arrested at one place- how much fun can you have?) and photos. The photos are phenomenal. Most were taken by Angie Mosier. Angie also secured most of the recipes or came up with her own that matched the recipe.  I really hope you will purchase this book. It really is a lot of fun to read and has great recipes. Just looking at the photos you will be drooling. 

For more information on the author check out his blog at

The Food Truck also has a website at

Follow the author on Twitter at

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