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Cookbook gift to a friend moving to the U.S.

I'm new here- I've just recently discovered the site, and I'm learning a great deal. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

I have a good friend who loves food/cooking. We met online and food was one area where we really connected. I'm in the U.S and she's from Lebanon.

She will be moving this spring to the U.S. to attend school. I would love to gift her with a cookbook when she arrives, preferably one with an "American" focus (or at least, non-Lebanese as she's already an expert in that area). Another piece of information that might be helpful with your suggestions: She's gluten-free. That's not a necessity for the cookbook, however, as she can make adjustments as needed.

What would you recommend? Are there any cookbooks that come to mind that would be a good gift, and that might inspire her with some new recipes or introduce her to local ingredients (She'll be in Southern CA)?

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  1. I'd go with a Barefoot Contessa book. As much as Ina Garten annoys me, her recipes tend to be simple but elegant at the same time, and use fresh ingredients. I live in So. CA too and I often pull out her books in the spring and summer after visiting the local farmer's market. Another favorite is the Naked Chef/Jaime Oliver books -- good emphasis on eating simple, fresh foods.

    1. Why not Joy of Cooking ?

      It's not my personal cookbook of choice but it's sorta " America's Cookbook."

      And it's really not half bad.

      If you want this to be an introduction to America, I'd not gift a Jamie Oliver book ( although several of them are pretty good).

      6 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        + a million -- Joy would be my first and only choice.

        Not only does it have *really* good recipes that are typically American, but it's recipes that most of America actually eats...with ingredients most Americans can find.

        1. re: sunshine842

          I'm with you..nothing wrong with it although maybe nothing of pyrotechic "Zowie1' in it. i grew up with at least three edtiions dating to the 1930s plus a wartime one. In truth, it is a great primer and the honoree may already know a lot of it

          I gave some Russian friends La Child's "THe Way to Cook" and they've loved it. Basic stu\ff.

          1. re: hazelhurst

            Thanks all! I have a couple of older small paperback copies of the Joy of Cooking. I look at them from time to time for ideas, but I really haven't cooked from them as the format of the book is nearly impossible to use in the kitchen. I'll take another look at a hardback copy to see if I like that better!

            1. re: Rach321

              Give her one that is 'coil bound'. Easy to use in the kitchen.

              1. re: Puffin3

                Coil bound is good. Plus it really is THE cookbook if you're trying to give someone else a feel for the general American food culture of the past century or so. Probably the OP's friend will find it much more interesting than our US posters do for that reason.
                In fact although I am a great lover of Joy,any cookbook designed for US home cooks would IMO be a better choice for someone curious about everyday US home cooking than any restaurant-related cookbook.

                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                  Good point! I'll take another look at my paperback copies when I get home and see if it seems like a good fit!

      2. I have three options for you.

        The Gourmet Cookbook (I have the yellow one, a bit older) It has many American styles of cooking as well as international (to the American pallet) Recipes are from the wonderful Gourmet Magazine.

        The Essential New York Times Cookbook. A compilation of NY Times recipes...most requested over the years.

        Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. Very well tested recipes. American classics. Rationales for the extra steps in recipes. Might be the best option for a cook that is new to America.

        I use all three on a regular basis. If nothing else than for reference.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pagesinthesun

          Thanks for the recommendations! They all sound good!

        2. What a nice gesture Rach. Since you're hoping to introduce her to local ingredients, I'm going to suggest two books that I think would be perfect:

          The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook. - This book focuses on seasonal foods and in addition to terrific recipes, there is also information about produce, how to shop and the farms that supply the market. The only downside to this book (as I do love it) is that it doesn't have many pictures so if your friend is unfamiliar with ingredients or, is a visual learner this could be a factor.

          The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook - What I really like about this book is that it's organized by month of the year and the recipes focus on what's fresh during that time. I think this would be very helpful to someone new to the State. I'd say the book is equal parts produce guide and recipes. There are lots of beautiful photographs to entice the reader/cook as well.

          Let us know what you decide on.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Yeah JOC would be my choice. You can't find a more 'American' take on cooking than that IMO.

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Thank you so much Breadcrumbs! Both of the books you recommended are beautiful, and I love the connection to California! :)

              I'll definitely be back to let you know what I go with.

            2. If you did want to go the gluten free way...Emeril Lagasse's daughters have a pretty good new cookbook out. As far as telling her about a California approach to gluten free have her watch Alex Thomapolous series on the computer
              http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=jcob72...