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May 16, 2009 05:46 PM

Authoritative cookbooks for ethnic cuisines

I would like to expand my cookbook collection to include authoritative cookbooks particularly for ethnic cuisines, including but are not limited to the following:

- chinese
- Japanese
- French
- Italian
- Korean
- Indian
- Mexican
- Argentinian
- Vietnam
- Thailand

Suggestions (title & author) are much appreciated!

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  1. sweetandsavory-- when you say you'd like to "expand", does that mean you already have some basic well-known / respected books in those cuisines? Or are you starting from scratch?

    2 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      I have some cookbooks about ethnic cuisines, but most of them can not be considered "authoritative" - they are either given to me as gifts or the result of impulsive cookbook splurge. I am looking for authoritative cookbooks with tried-and-true recipes that I can follow with satisfactory results.

      1. re: sweetandsavory

        You may be asking for too much. I take 'authoritative' to mean a book that describes the cuisine as practiced and eaten in the respective country. That cooking may require ingredients and equipment that you do not have ready access to, and methods that you may not be familiar with. Thus the recipes might not be 'tried-and-true' in an American kitchen, and the tastes might not be satisfactory to your palate.

        I'd suggest listing (some of) the ones you have. That may prompt others to suggest ones that they think are better in one way or another.

    2. For authentic recipes from Sichuan and Hunan, take a look at Fuschia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty" and "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook."

      1. For French, I don't you you can get much more authoritative than Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes I and II. Very instructive, thorough and the recipes are both extremely reliable and delicious.

        For Italian, I'd go with Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cookbook, which likewise is instructive, quite comprehensive, and has extremely reliable and delicious recipies.

        For Mexican, there are several authors who are considered definitive on Mexican cooking, including Rick Bayless, Patricia Quintana and Diana Kennedy, but with the regionality of that country's cuisine, you will likely need several books. A good one for starters is Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless.

        LIkewise for Chinese -- you will probably not find one book that is authoritative on that cuisine. We did the two Fuscia Dunlop books mentioned above (Land of Plenty and Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook) for cookbook of the month a while ago and they are excellent for the regions they cover. For an introductory all-purpose Chinese cookbook, I have Irene Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking, and it is quite good, if limited in its regionality.

        For Indian, Madhur Jaffrey is widely regarded as an authority. I haven't cooked much from her books, so I can't recommend which would be best for your puposes, but she has several to choose from.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DanaB

          Thanks Dana and befuggled - I do have Fuschia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty", and will check out your other recommendations!

          1. re: sweetandsavory

            I don't know if you are member of your local library, but I find it is perhaps your best resource for deciding what cookbooks you want to buy. The two locales where I have checked out cookbooks regularly (Madison, WI and Los Angeles, CA) have excellent collections (you can put holds on the books online and have them delivered to your local branch for easy pick up) and being able to have the book for a few weeks, read and try some recipes before you buy is much better than browsing online or flipping through the book in a bookstore. Especially if you are considering investing in a number of "go to" books for the variety of cuisines you are recommending, I think it would be a great resource for you.