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Apr 15, 2002 01:31 AM

Definitive ethnic cookbooks (update)

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Thanks for all the good posts. I've compiled a list that may or may not represent some degree of consensus as an easier frame of reference. There are a number of cuisines not covered, and I would invite anyone who missed the last thread to chime in. And, of course, please quibble with these choices. I've listed the name, author, most recent year of publication, and price on (% of sales goes to Chowhound site, no?). All are hardback unless noted otherwise.

Italian – “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”, Marcella Hazan (1992), $21

French – “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, Julia Child (2001), $28

Moroccan – “Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco”, Paula Wolfert (1987), $12.60 (paperback)

Middle Eastern – “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food”, Claudia Rodin (2000), $24.50

Northern Indian – “Classic Indian Cooking”, Julie Sahni (1980), $18.87

Southern Indian – “Curried Flavors: Family Recipes for South India”, Maya Kaimal MacMillan (2002), $17.47 (paperback)

Korean – “The Korean Kitchen: Classic Recipes from the Land of the Morning Calm”, Copeland Marks and Manjo Kim (1999), $10.36 (paperback)

Vietnamese – “Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table”, Mai Pham (2001), $19.25 or “The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking”, Mai Pham (1996), $16.07(paperback)

Japanese – “Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art”, Shizuo Tsuji (1980),$28

General Asian – “The Complete Asian Cookbook”, Charmaine Solomon (2002-not yet released), $27.97 or “Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia”, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (2000), $31.50

Mexican – “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico”, Diana Kennedy (2000), $24.50

A few notes: I really tried to narrow it down to one for each cuisine-two posters liked Pham's later book and hadn't used her earlier book, but Amazon reviewers liked the earlier book better, for whatever that's worth.

The two "general Asian" cookbooks are obviously not devoted to a specific cuisine, but they were so enthusiastically praised that it seemed worth including them.

Diana Kennedy's cookbook is a combination of three previous books: "The Cuisines of Mexico", "The Tortilla Book", and "Mexican Regional Cooking".


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  1. You might consider Lang's book on Hungarian cooking

    1. t
      The Pie Queen

      Of course, if you subscribe to ChowNews you will automatically get a distillation of long and complex threads such as that one.


      5 Replies
      1. re: The Pie Queen

        Yeah, but ChowNews covers LA, SF, and NY. I'm stuck in a city with only one name and no recognizable ChowNews for Chi-town.

        1. re: Aaron D
          The Pie Queen

          Bummer! Didn't think of that. I wonder if they could make a ChowNews at a reduced rate that just included the general topics section.

          1. re: The Pie Queen

            As a Bostonian who doesn't get to NY much (but drool a lot!), I read Chownews for the General Topics section...Maybe after the first 6 months of subscriptions run out, the Big Dogs could market the General Topics notes as a separate subscription? It has as much value as any of the others, esp. for those who don't have time (I know, it's hard to believe; but I've spoken to them!) to read all the General Topics posts...And they ARE a whole other set of tips unto themselves!


            1. re: galleygirl

              I live in Atlanta and subscribe to the NYC Chownews for the General topics. Totally worth it.

            2. re: The Pie Queen

              Sheesh, Your Highness! A "reduced rate"???

              A subscription to ChowNews costs FIFTEEN BUCKS! And it's worth TONS more!

              Sorry to get all-caps on you, but we provide so much value each week, for such ridiculously low cost.............mmphpfhpppomgggggmmff! (sound of muffled cartoonish exasperation)

              : )



        2. Thank you so much for you efforts, Aaron. You've done a real service for the commmunity.

          1. Marks' book on Korean cooking is good, but I think much better is a new book by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall called "Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen" (Ten Speed). For Thai, I'd also recommend Nancy McDermott's books--she's not Thai, but lived there for several years and the recipes are incredible.

            1 Reply
            1. re: russ parsons

              Thanks, Russ. I'd heard some complaints about Marks' book by native Koreans, but they sort of suggested that it's just a cuisine underserved by English cookbooks. Glad to know there's something better.

            2. If you want Chowhound to receive that commission on your Amazon purchase, you need to click through to Amazon from the CH home page. Scroll down a bit and look to the right of the page, and you'll see the Amazon search box.