Most helpful critical review
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2010
I was raised in a Cuban family in South Florida and ate Cuban food every day of my life until I left home at 17. I'm not a huge cook, but occasionally I enjoy making something traditionally Cuban if I'm in the mood for some comfort food. I've owned "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen" by Mary Urrutia Randelman for many years, and I have to say all the recipes I've tried from that book are very close to what I'm used to getting from Mom or Cuban restaurants in Miami.
I was getting bored of using the same book, so I decided to give the Three Guys book a try. I started with two standard recipes -- the seafood enchilado and the picadillo, the latter being probably the most basic, traditional Cuban dish. I probably had it at least once a week growing up. Enchilado is a little more refined and is usually reserved for special occasions.
Anyhow, I made the enchilado first, and while I have to say the flavor was good, it was nothing like the enchilado I'm used to, which was disappointing, since that is the whole point of cooking Cuban food for me. I asked my mom for her recipe and it couldn't have been more different than the book's. I then made her version, and voila. Now I know every mom has her own methods but I've also eaten this food at restaurants and while I like my mom's better, it is still basically the same thing. The Three Guys version was very different.
The next recipe was picadillo. First of all the ingredient list is VERY different from the traditional one. Keep in mind that traditional picadillo calls for no spices other than salt and pepper (the latter being optional). This one called for cumin, cinnamon (?), cloves (??) and oregano (???). The taste that this produces is OK, but definitely NOT traditional Cuban picadillo. I've made this dish hundreds of times from Mary Urrutia's book and it tastes exactly like home. It's a very basic dish, not rocket science. Perhaps this is a different take on it, but that's not what I was looking for.
Anyway, the point is that I'm not sure how these guys developed their recipes, but if you are Cuban and looking to re-create mom's cooking, this is not the book for you -- stick instead with "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen".