Book Review: Try This

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Try This: Traveling the Globe without Leaving the Table
By Danyelle Freeman

Dear Foodies, you personally may or may not need the following book, but I think it is an important book in the new culinary landscape that is America.  Try This is a restaurant guide that aims to help people break out of a restaurant routine by identifying possibly unknown menu items in eating establishments of every stripe and color. Doesn’t this happen to you sometimes? You or a friend go to the same restaurant and order the same thing over and over again? Perhaps it’s because you never heard of the other menu items. Or, maybe you’re afraid they wouldn’t make it like your mother or how you remember when you visited the country last summer. Either way, it’s a good book to read when exploring new cuisines. 

I know what noplaes, mole, cochinita pibil, and pico de gallo are, but that doesn’t mean everybody else does.  Perhaps the words sopes, huitlacoche, esquites and al pastor were seen in the flash of the menu or overheard in a busy and crowded restaurant, and not fully understood.  Foodie embarrassment crept in and the questions were silenced, and these dishes get skipped in the rush to order an overstuffed chicken burrito and nachos.  Like I said, you may know these Mexican dishes, but what about other cuisines?  This book will help you to delve into the menu items at any restaurant from a British pasty to a Vietnamese bahn mi. 

The Cuban chapter was of special interest to me.  The author lists notable Cuban exports as the mojito, the Cubano sandwich, and cigars.  Most of my knowledge stops there.  Freeman writes about the lechon asado (roasted suckling pig that is also used in the Cubano) which is citrus infused, slow roasted pork that is made all the more tender and flavorful from the 48 hour marinating process.  Or the lesser known cousin of the Cubano, the Medianoche bocadillo, made with sweet egg bread.  It’s easy to embrace Cuban cuisine, or any cuisine, when you can confidently navigate the menu.  So next time you’re dining on Cuban, order the maduros, arroz morro, and the ropa vieja paired with a classic lime daiquiri made simply with rum, fresh lime juice and sugarcane.  Oh what the hell, have a mojito too!

Freeman helps you leave behind your “go-to” safe dish, and embrace the entire menu.  I’d definitely pick up this book if you (or someone you know) might be a safe eater: shed your shame and live a little!

A quick note about the author: Danyelle Freeman is the founder and editor of  She was the chief restaurant critic for the New York Daily News for over two years. 

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