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What are your favorite International Cookbooks?

The thread about cookbook buyer's remorse got me thinking

What are your favorite int'l cookbooks? What makes them wonderful?

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  1. We try and buy cookbooks as souvenirs when travelling overseas so all these have something special about them. But one of my favourites is Mark Sohn's "Appalachian Home Cooking" - I find it very enlightening about a foreign culture and food's place in that culture.

    1. The Italian Baker by Carol Field. Not only are their recipes, but methods of mixing dough depending upon manual or machine mixing, and baking. I only bake bread, and I only use a wooden spoon and a glass bowl with a matching cover to prepare the dough.

      1. La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy (Accademia Italaina della Cucina/The Italian Academy of Cuisine). After years of cooking from secondary sources, this wonderful translation from the original Italian is THE source. Most fascinating of all is the comparison from region to region for the same dish, really interesting.

        1. Marcella Hazan: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Extremely simple recipes, delicious results (if you use great ingredients). Marcella emphasizes basic techniques (like how to toss pasta) that other books ignore. The recipes usually don't require many ingredients, and I typically have ingredients on hand to make a lot of them. Anyone can be a great cook with this book.

          Raghavan Iyer: 660 Curries. The recipes in this book reflect the great diversity in regional Indian cooking. There is no focus on the Punjabi dishes that, while great, are staples of cookie cutter Indian restaurants across the country. This isn't the ideal book for people looking to make restaurant-style chicken tikka masala and saag paneer at home. But from this book, I often cook dishes that I've never eaten before, and which are unavailable at any restaurant in LA (and probably the United States). Iyer's writing is very clear and the recipes are usually easy to execute. (The hardest part is learning where to acquire and how to manage/store the numerous ingredients, which can be a source of frustration if you don't cook Indian dishes all the time.) I've learned a great deal about the basics of Indian cooking from this book.

          1. Spanish - The New Spanish Table by von Bremzen. Gosh, every recipe I have tried has been great and I despite a lack of photos, I am drawn to make even more.

            Japanese - The Japanese Kitchen by Kimiko Barber. I have a few Japanese cookbooks but this one is my favourite because it highlights a different Japanese ingredient on each page. It makes the recipes a bit harder to flip through but much easier if you bought one ingredient and are wondering what to do with it.

            Syrian Jewish - Aromas of Aleppo by Poop Dweck - Gorgeous photography with little blurbs about the history. The recipes have been great so far.

            Turkish/Moroccan/Lebanese - Arabesque by Claudia Roden. I also have The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, but I am drawn to Arabesque most often. Likely due to the photography and clearer layout, because most of the recipes are also in TNBMEF.

            5 Replies
            1. re: blinknoodle

              Arabesque is on my list of "If you could only keep 10 cookbooks, what would they be?"

              1. re: blinknoodle

                tell me more about the new spanish table. would i like this if i only eat fish and chicken?

                1. re: sushigirlie

                  I dont know the book but I'd be surprised if any decent Spanish cookbook did not have a significant input on seafood cookery. The country has one of the longest coastlines here in Europe and fish is very popular. I'd also expect a good emphasis on vegetarian dishes, which I'm presuming you may also eat.

                  1. re: sushigirlie

                    I eat mainly vege-centric dishes, plus fish, and I think the cookbook has a lot of variety.

                    1. re: blinknoodle

                      I bought this book. It is AWESOME. To be fair, I haven't cooked from it -- yet. The recipes just look wonderful though and the photos are fantastic.

                2. The Cooking of Provincial France, a Time-Life book in the series of international cuisines. Written by MFK Fisher, it provides a dated look at food and cooking outside of the culinary hub of Paris. It's one of my favorite "curl up with a book because it's ugly outside " books. The recipes are classics. I don't really cook from it much, but it's just so much fun to read.

                  Also like the Culinaria Germany book, once again to read but not to cook from. Actually the photography in the Culinaria books are quite lovely.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nofunlatte

                    Any of the country books from the Time-Life series are great!

                  2. A big thank you to my husband for this one, he buys me unusual cookbooks whenever he gets the chance and a couple of years ago he picked up (probably at Goodwill) a copy of "Creative International Cookbook" (no author listed - just an editor) which I absolutely love! My Roman Numeral reading isn't good so maybe someone can translate the date - MCMLXXXXI is the copyright date.

                    The recipes are organized by Type - Appetizers through Desserts and then by Country of Origin. I have used it to create a meal from all over the world, as well as from specific countries. The amount of Mexican recipes is amazing, I haven't even begun to touch on the Oriental recipes, never mind European countries - I will cook from this book for the rest of my life and never finish it!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nsstampqueen

                      1991 - although the more usual way of writing it would be MCMXCI, which perhaps means whoever wrote it wasnt very good at Roman numerals either :-0

                      Google suggests that it (or at least a book of the same title) was first published in 1981 and was complied by Charlotte Turgeon & Beryl Frank and published by Bonanza Books. Sounds like one of those books put together by publishing houses where they trawl other sources for recipes, rather than it being a an original work. Also looks like some years later, it was also sold as a series of "part works" by nation.

                    2. For overviews, I like

                      - The Best International Recipe (full of great explanations and background)... the only real problem I have with it is how hard it is to search by country. I also really like how they tell you when they've modified a recipe from tradition and why.

                      - The World's Best Recipes - a great encyclopedia of sorts, covers a great deal of the world and gives you an idea of what they eat/like. I also like Bittman's simple approach.

                      - The World Cookbook for Students - literally country by country... with a bit of information about the country's history and a few recipes for each. This is usually a library reference book (in other words, you cannot check it out)

                      - I have one book that's about a hundred years old called the PanPacific Cookbook (I think)... and it has recipes from tons of countries and cute drawings. I have to be careful with it... the pages are getting brittle.

                      For more specifics:

                      - The Mediterranean Feast, by Clifford A. Wright. One of my favorites because of the in-depth history as well as the combination of bizarre and totally approachable recipes. Great for historians/foodies alike.

                      - I enjoy Linda Bladholm's "Demystifying the Asian grocery store" and others (she has one on latino and one others...). There are a few recipes but mostly clues as to what ingredients and dishes are popular in the regions.

                      - I love looking at "one country" cookbooks too... Since I'm cooking one meal for every country in the world, they seem to give me the most specific help/ideas for each country.

                      I'm sure I'm missing something... but that's all I can think of right now... without getting out of bed to look at my bookshelf... lol.