The Austin Chronicle

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Book Review: ‘Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook’

By Jessi Cape, January 4, 2013, 10:30am, On the Range

Austin food trucks have become synonymous with tasty, often ingenious, handheld edibles. Tiffany Harelik’s ‘Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook, Austin edition, Volume 2’ (American Palate, 206 pp., $19.99) offers the inside scoop on the famous Austin trailer food that represents an American Dream.

The food trailer scene is exploding and along for the tasty ride is Tiffany Harelik. Brick and mortars that started as trailers, such as Counter Culture and Torchy's Tacos, are among hundreds of success stories in the city. The South Congress food trailers boast fans from around the country, although it seems the site's tenants will be forced out this Spring for lame hotel construction (link). Celebrity chef Paul Qui’s worshiped East Side King trailers are multiplying with a restaurant underway.

Trailer Food Diaries, the 2010-born blog baby of Harelik, has since spawned festivals, a book series, and her reputation as a street food expert. The beginning of her storied adventures into the wilds of street food culture is both the root cause and the intriguing parallel of her penchant for highlighting the backgrounds of trailer chefs and owners. This 2nd volume adds a new round of Austin flavors to the collection and makes a good prize for any lover of this fair city’s world-famous trailer food (especially to quench post-Austin vacation cravings).

The recipe selections run the gamut of category, cuisine, and nutritional focus. I was surprised to see a somewhat balanced number of inclusions from trailers, such as Sun Farm Kitchen and Schmaltz, which celebrate fresh local food amidst the many often-fried trailer traditions. This speaks as much to Austin’s love affair with farm-fresh and creative food, as it does our occasional tendencies to revel in deep-fried gluttony.

Personally, I’ll leave dishes like Dr. Pepper Beef from The Gypsy Kit and The Mickey (with Kraft Cheese Whiz!?) from Way South Philly, for the ravenous crowds. I will, however, hold Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook hostage until I master items like Seedling Truck’s Polenta Cake with Poached Egg and Kale Pesto and the Avocado Sorbet from Ice Cream Social. And of course, tacos are always welcome in my world, so the Banh Mi Taco courtesy of The Peached Tortilla will be on my home menu soon.

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