Cookbook Review: The Grand Central Market Cookbook

In the 33 years I’ve lived in Southern California, I’ve only been to Los Angeles proper a small handful of times. We often drive through the outskirts on our trips up north, but it isn’t really a place we want to stay and bring the kids. I’ve always thought of LA as a southern California version of Las Vegas–an overly commercial environment with excessive vanity in both the city itself and its citizens. So, I was actually pleasantly surprised to read about the family favorite recipes inĀ The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture from Downtown Los Angeles.

This cookbook draws its recipes from the vendors and shop owners in downtown Los Angeles’ iconic food hall, Grand Central Market. Grand Central Market (GCM) has been a local diverse food court since 1917 and has recently seen a rebirth in popularity. Today, GCM has a motto: “From food, community.” The market boasts a large, culturally diverse community with vendors selling everything from tacos to pupusas to pepitas, from deli dill pickles to pastrami on rye to bagels and lox. From Curried shrimp to Som Tum to Nashville Hot Fried Chicken. Surely, there is something for everyone, and the next time I find myself in Los Angeles, it may be worth a trip to see this iconic spot.

Now, on to the cookbook itself. There are seven chapters: Breakfast; Tacos, Etc; Carbs; Happy Hour; Meat and Fish; Veg; and Sweets. Each of the recipes either come from one of GCMs vendors, or it was written by the cookbook author using GCM as inspiration.

Some of the Breakfast recipes include: Huevos Rancheros, Chicken Chop Suey, Coconut Cream Doughnuts, and several juice/smoothie recipes.

The Taco, Etc. chapter includes such offerings as homemade corn and flour tortillas, carne asada, pork in chile verde, and vegan crunchy avocado tacos.

Carbs includes vegetable chow mein, curry udon, ancient grains bowl with kombucha dressing, and grilled margherita pizza.

From Happy Hour, appetizers such as herb tahini dip and cheesy potatoes to spiked drinks.

Meat and Fish: Big Meatballs with Amatriciana Sauce, Thai BBQ Chicken, and Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken Sando

Veg includes recipes such as Pinto Beans, Sauerkraut Salad, and Pressed Cucumber Salad

Finally, in Sweets, Mini chocolate chip cookies, salted caramel bread pudding, horchata, and cinnamon ice cream.

This cookbook is part recipes and part memoir. It is written in homage to the community that keeps Grand Central Market alive. The photos show a sense of community by showing someone’s hands in every photo–and I think that is probably my least favorite part of this book. Hands working on the food, hands delivering the food…I understand the cookbook is meant to show the people and culture behind the food, so I get why they did it, but hands in my food just isn’t very appetizing. Otherwise, this was a really interesting cookbook that helped me understand the culture behind this iconic food market.

*I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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