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Cookbooks that are more than just cookbooks.

Whilst I am a fan of the old fashioned cookbooks, I like nothing more than delving into a cookbook and learning more than just recipes. There is an increasing number of cookbooks that teach us about a culture, history etc. yet I only stumble across them by accident.
There was;
David Thompson authoritative work on Thai Food; Dunlop's classics on Sichuan food; and of cause Ottolenghi's books.

I am in desperate need of more!
What other 'authority' cookbooks are there? That really get bellow the surface of a countries food??

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  1. One of my "bibles" is the Making of a Cook by Madeleine Kamman. French focused, but with a lot of history thrown in.

    8 Replies
    1. re: rudeboy

      My mom took two years of culinary instruction from Madeleine Kamman in the 60's when she lived in Philadelphia. I have both of her books and concur. Also, somewhere in this attic, I have all the original mimeograph recipes Madeleine handed out to her students at each lesson.

      My other frequently used favorite is the 1907 "Encyclopedia of Practical Gastronomy" by Ali-Bab. He was a French mining engineer who traveled the world and wrote up an amazing collection of recipes with extensive commentary.

      1. re: Chefpaulo

        The Encyclopedia sounds awesome. As does Ali-Bab's job description.

        1. re: rudeboy

          I wish you all good will finding this. It is the Elizabeth Benson translation published in 1974 by McGraw-Hill. The original title was "Gastronomie Practique: Etudes Culinires." It is worth the search.

          Ali-Bab (his culinary name) was actually Henri Babinskl - the brother of Joseph Babinski, M.D - the Babinski reflex neurologist.

          Ali-Bab provided some amazing recipes. His Chicken Sauteed in Cream, Shallots and Armagnac and his Chocolate Almond Gateau with Amaretto Whipped Cream (my addition) have been staples for 35 years.

      2. re: rudeboy

        I just bought a copy of Making of a Cook. I can't wait to dive into it.

        1. re: AmyLearnsToCook

          I find that if I take it to bed, I can read some of the background info here and there before going to sleep. However, it is sort of heavy book.

        2. re: rudeboy

          Wow - I totally forgot about the Trout Point Lodge book.


          These are Louisiana guys that went to Nova Scotia where the Acadiens came from to explore the roots of the cajun cuisine. the book is more Canadian, though. They use local ingredients from there and come up with good fusion recipes. One day, I will go there.

          Thorough, but not huge. The history in in the forward in the first section, with little vignettes with some of the recipes.

        3. Cradle of Flavor is full of anecdotes and stories from the author's stay in SE Asia.

          1. The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. From fiction's greatest detective and chowhound.

            1. I'm with you. I love a cookbook that tells me as much about the history and culture behind the food as how to cook it. You're just as likely to find a cookbook in my bedside reading pile as in the kitchen.

              Since you mentioned Asian cookbooks, I'll recommend the books of the team Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, such as "Hot Sour Salty Sweet", "Mangoes & Curry Leaves" or "Beyond the Great Wall".

              10 Replies
              1. re: weem

                Ohh I had been thinking about 'Hot Sour Salty Sweet'; will definitely buy it! To bad that 'Mangoes and Curry Leaves' is out of print on Amazon!
                Have you read Naomi Duguid's Burma book?

                1. re: borisabrams

                  No, I haven't. In fact, the only one I owned and read in any depth was "Mangoes & Curry Leaves". I had to part with it a few years ago when I was super-broke, but now that things are a bit more stable I'm slowly building up my cookbook library again, and these are on my list. I'm sure there are nice used copies online, too, unless you only like to buy them new.

                  1. re: borisabrams

                    The Book Depository site has 'Mangoes and Curry Leaves'.

                  2. re: weem

                    Thanks, Weem.

                    Every book by Alford and Duguid is stunning, packed with intelligence, great writing, information and the love they have for food cultures and people shows on every page and photograph.

                    i have 'Rice' 'Bread' and 'Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet'. I buy them immediately if i find them.

                    1. re: kariin

                      Oh, wonderful, thanks for the feedback, Kariin!

                      1. re: kariin

                        How does 'Rice' compare to the others?? From what I have read about their books, 'Rice' doesnt seem to get as much credit as their others!

                        Also; I dont eat Pork...how much focus does 'Hot, sour, Salty, Sweet' have on pork? Would you say its easily substituted?

                        1. re: borisabrams

                          I agree. And HSSS is full of non-pork suggestions: tofu, vegan/veg, chicken, seafood and fish and lots of other critters. get the book - check it out of a library first if necessary. My bet is you'll be searching for it within a few days.

                          Rice is less noticed here but i attribute that to the fact that rice is not as beloved for a staple here as in other parts of the world: Indian sub-continent, south Asia, Persia, China, Japan, west Africa. In US rice was/is significant where it can be grown (Louisiana, Ark-Texas, Gulf, and atlantic coast SC, GA, NFlorida). Corn, potatoes are the essential staple starches here - wheat rules as the grain.

                          Alford and Duguid give rice culture around the world its due - which means an enormous cultural road to wander.
                          And the deep SC rice culture is a part of that story and their treatment is true to our history. We came so close to losing it here, but it is coming back.. Cooking real Carolina Gold rice - knowing what it cost so many people to cultivate it here in the past - it stops time.

                          Every book they have done is worth every penny.

                          1. re: kariin

                            Ah ok; I am going to get the HSSS and the Rice books - mayyybeee the one about the Indian subcontinent and China. I feel like a kid in a candy store!

                            You seem to know a lot about Rice in the States. Do you have any connection to it personally, or just an interest of yours?

                            1. re: borisabrams

                              well I eat it constantly so that's a very personal connection :->

                              I learned to fix good, dry white rice before I was 8 just by watching. nothing special. rice was at evry meal except breakfast. every kind of southern pea/bean was served over that rice, and also stew beef, pork chops, okra, shrimp, cooked tomato and all kinds of gravy. Irish (white) potatoes were less common, tho loved as mashed. Chicken bog w/sausage and pepper was cooked with rice (it's a wet perlow). It was incomprehensible to me that people didn't eat rice every day and had no idea how to fix it. I felt very happy in the first Chinese restaurant I went to because it made sense to me that rice was the hub that everything else revolved around.

                              The idea of a special rice cooker made sense only if you didn't really know how to fix rice and needed to have enough for 20+ people. I still don't own a rice cooker but i probably wouldn't turn it down if somebody gave me one.

                              i live in SC now where one side of my family comes from and work for the return to foods that nearly disappeared in the 60s-80s: not just heirlooms but lots of things people stopped cooking and eating, usually out of embarassement over looking 'country' or 'hick'. And southern food once had a uniformly bad rap as greasy, over-cooked, too much salt and generally disgusting. such a shame.

                              And it's a regional cuisine,(as in Italy) with enormous differences, from appalachian mtn food to gulf coast, to low country to kentucky burgoo to anything nola to tidewater virginia to florida cracker to eastern nc bbq, to arkansas dry land rice to liver nips to sc pine bark stew.... carolina gold rice is an amazing story. and you can eat history. here is the recipe:


                              and the Southern Foodways Alliance is the best single source anywhere:

                              thanks for asking, sorry to bend your ear.

                              1. re: kariin

                                The Carolina Rice Kitchen by Karen Hess is full of history with a sprinkling of recipes throughout.

                    2. Sonia Uvezian's Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, which gives a deep look at one of the oldest food cultures.

                      1. Claudia roden book of Jewish food has a lot of history. I love reading it

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: Siegal

                          If I recall correctly, Joan Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America" had a lot of history in it, too. The Roden book sounds interesting, so I'll have to look for it.

                          1. re: weem

                            I have both. The Roden book is far superior in my opinion but I'm very partial to her. You should check it out

                            1. re: Siegal

                              Will do. Thanks for the recommendation.

                              1. re: Siegal

                                Siegal, thanks. Another+++ . She is incomparable; brilliant writing, thoughtful history, love for the people and food culture and reliable guides to the cooking. I'm so glad you added her to this thread.

                                1. re: kariin

                                  I hear that her Italian cookbook is about to be re-released, as is her Middle-Eastern cookbook. I'm debating waiting....I seriously cant wait to get my hands on her Jewish Cookbook. Looks wonderful!

                                  1. re: borisabrams

                                    That is great news!! She is another keeper - whatever i find of hers I buy and give away, especially to my newer/younger cooking-food friends. They are amazed at the depth and knowledge and the tastes/photos. There are so many mediocre (or worse) 'cookbooks'.

                                    Food as culture connects with many many under-30 folks who want to travel and are totally open to other peoples - but they don't know about these amazing writers unless we tell the - or better yet - share the books. And then help them cook stuff - they are so hungry (in every way)!

                                    1. re: borisabrams

                                      Man, I wish I knew that! I got the Middle Eastern for Christmas and I bought the Italian used for dirty cheap. I guess it doesn't matter really.

                                      1. re: melpy

                                        Thats annoying! What is your opinion of the Italian one?

                                      2. re: borisabrams

                                        Ooh! I've been wanting to get the Middle Eastern book but Its so old I have been putting it off for shiny new ones. I would love to get a new version. Any news on when ?

                                        1. re: Siegal

                                          Unfortunately not!
                                          I was lucky enough to catch Roden on a radio show a couple weeks ago. The host asked what was next, and she said she was updating the Middle Eastern book. I have looked online but naturally I just find information on the re-release of her Italy book. Which I notice has actually now been released!
                                          Will be sure to post back if I hear more details! (Although I suspect it wont be for some time)

                                          1. re: borisabrams

                                            Strange about Roden updating Middle Eastern book as I have her The New Book of Middle Eastern Food published in 2010. It is an update of her 1972 Book of Middle Eastern Food. Maybe it is Mediterranean book that she is updating?

                                            1. re: herby

                                              Possibly. Though I suspect the new edition will have colour photos much like her spain book (and the Italian food update). Does your edition have photos?

                                              1. re: borisabrams

                                                Yes it does; three blocks of photos - possibly not to disturb the original layout and keep the cost down.

                                                You got many wonderful suggestions and because of this thread I ordered My Mexico and the Georgian book and Honey from Weed. No self-control! Really! LOL

                                                1. re: herby

                                                  I know! Every time someone replied my heart rate increased my wallet tightened!

                                                  Let me know about your views on My Mexico. Somehow I have yet to purchase any of her books!

                                                  1. re: borisabrams

                                                    I want a DK book for a long time but didn't think I'll cook from it as Mexican is not really my favourite cuisine. I have a couple of Bayless books and aside from Salsas do not care for them. But made a few dishes from Pati's and really liked them. I think it is time to own a Kennedy, not just borrow from the library to read :)

                                                    Started reading On the Noodle Road today - enjoyable little book.

                                2. re: Siegal

                                  Roden in general gives lots of additional information. I have a very old version of her Italian book plus food of Spain and Middle East.

                                3. The Ministry of Food, by Jean Fearnley-Whittingstall, is a good reference about food consumption and preparation during times of war and food shortage. Of interest, is how the grow your own-local movement began way back when. It does also have some vintage recipes.

                                  1. If you're interested in baking, check out Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery. Part I goes into tremendous detail on the history and background of grains, milling, flours and meals, yeast and other ingredients, ovens and vessels for baking, factory baking, and much more. Part II contains the recipes, and there is also much history there, including historical recipes and modern adaptations. If you have any anglophile tendencies it is an excellent read, and if you bake it is a treasure trove.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: janniecooks

                                      I LOVE this book. I love all her books.

                                    2. I don't know if you're open to out-of-print books at all, but if so, you might enjoy the old Time-Life Foods of the World series. Dozens of volumes released in the late sixties/early seventies. You can find used copies online, and I check them out from the library. Each volume represents a different country, region or culture, all about the history and culture as it relates to food, plus recipes. Yes, they are obviously dated, but what I appreciate about them is the way they present traditional cuisines, rather than modern interpretations of them.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: weem

                                        The Time-Life books gathered up a lot of the best food writers of that era. The books themselves are very easy to come by; any second-hand store or antiques mall with cookbook sections will often have several. We have a dedicated used-cookbook store up the street, and the proprietor uses her computer both to track inventory and to make and maintain lists of how many books there were in any series and what their subjects were. She printed one for me covering the Time-Life books, both hardcover and the spiral-bound recipe supplements; one of these days I'll get of my lazy whatzit and wrap up the collection.

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          How fortunate to have that bookstore just down the street!

                                        2. re: weem

                                          The Cooking of Provincial France (MFK Fisher) is one of my desert island reads, perhaps even more so now that it's a slice of French life that is/has vanished (I believe it dates back to the late 1960s). A hoot to read!

                                          1. re: weem

                                            I've slowly accumulated them all. They never grow old.

                                          2. Very few of my cookbooks are recipes only. Many of Beard's treated a lot of the recipes as essay questions, with anecdotes and reminiscences appended. Then there are the food-essay books with recipes coming along for the ride, as in Evan Jones's "American Food" and John Egerton's "Southern Food." Any book on cooking or cuisine by Waverly Root will have good commentary, often entertaining.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              I will second "Southern Food". An outstanding book, by the recently deceased master storyteller.

                                              1. re: jmckee

                                                and another for John Egerton. A good man and a friend to everyone who wants to understand all the different strands of Southern food.

                                            2. The Essential Mediterranean: How Regional Cooks Transform Key Ingredients into the World's Favorite Cuisines, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins has chapters on different ingredients important to Mediterranean cuisines (salt, wine and vinegar, pasta and couscous, bread, olive oil, Old World legumes, New World peppers and tomatoes, dairy products, the family pig, and the resources of the sea), each of which begins with an essay about the ingredients, their production, history in the region, role in local culture and cooking, etc., including profiles of local producers. Interesting reading, and plenty of recipes, to boot.

                                              1. I'll add another vote for the Time Life Foods of the World series.

                                                You may also enjoy:
                                                The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cooking
                                                Joseph Dabney's southern and lowcountry cookbooks
                                                Best Food Writing yearly compilations
                                                Cornbread Nation cookbooks
                                                M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
                                                Elizabeth David, An Omelet and a Glass of Wine
                                                Jane and Michael Stern, Square Meals
                                                Grandma's Wartime Kitchen

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Tara57

                                                  Great list (the Fisher book is one of my favorite books, regardless of genre), and I have to second "The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cooking". I found it fascinating, read it cover-to-cover, and I hardly find anybody who's even heard of it!

                                                  1. re: weem

                                                    I think you would enjoy Smokehouse Ham, Spoonbread & Scuppernong Wine by James Dabney. It is similar to the Foxfire book. I have both and pick them up and reread them often.

                                                  2. re: Tara57

                                                    YES to the Foxfire Book. I love it, and read it often. YES to the Cornbread Nation collections from the Southern Food Alliance -- extremely enjoyable.

                                                  3. Madhur Jaffrey - A Taste of India

                                                    Edward Espe Brown - Tassajara Bread Book

                                                    Fran Gage - Bread and Chocolate: My Food Life In and Around San Francisco

                                                    Elizabeth Andoh - Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen

                                                    Adrian Miller - Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ninrn

                                                      Ah yes - I have been looking at Madhur Jaffrey's book!

                                                      Just wondered, have you (or anyone), come across:
                                                      India: The Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant

                                                      1. re: borisabrams

                                                        A bit late, but I own it.

                                                        It's very much a 'recipe dump' style of book. Reciipes are annotated by region and hotness. I get the distinct impression that a lot of these are traditional Indian home cooking dishes.

                                                        It's very light on the type of background that you were asking about, and the layout and sheer number of recipes included overwhelms. It's riddled with errors and duplications with a barely functional index. That being said, everything I have cooked from this book has been good-to-excellent, but you will need to improvise a LOT.

                                                        See also: http://www.amazon.com/ss/customer-rev...

                                                        If a single Indian book is what you are after, my vote goes to Julie Sahni's books.

                                                    2. Though dated (let's face it--ALL cookbooks will be "dated" one day), I love the Culinaria series, which you can sometimes find in the bargain bins of Barnes and Noble. I love sitting down to read Culinaria: France or Culinaria: Spain on a cold, rainy afternoon. I have four of them--France, Spain, Germany, and European Specialties (smaller treatments of various European countries) and they are keepers. Again, these are dated (and ingredients may be difficult to source), but they offer a fascinating window into regional food cultures (the series breaks down each country into its various regions).

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: nofunlatte

                                                        Sicilian Home Cooking by Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene would fit this category.

                                                      2. Any of John Thorne's books.

                                                        "Simple cooking" is a good place to start.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: hyde

                                                          I'm late to this thread party but so glad to see John Thorne's work here. I've hunted down all of his books. Not one is old or dated. His essays on how he developed the courage to really cook are breathtakingly honest. thanks for adding him here.

                                                          1. re: kariin

                                                            Do you know which of his books those pieces are in, kariin?

                                                            1. re: ellabee

                                                              Oh yes. I just had to reach over to on of the bookcases and pull them out:
                                                              _Outlaw Cook_ (1992) with the essays 'Learning to Eat',
                                                              'Outlaw Cook', 'Taking Stock' and ' On Not Being a
                                                              Good Cook'.

                                                              And dozens of discussions and recipes about garlic soup, dried mushrooms, potato pancakes, dandan noodles, irish soda bread, Richard Olney, Martha Stewart and 'My Paula Wolfert Problem'.

                                                              If you need to read them from a library, do that. Then hunt them down and buy them all. Used and in good condition, affordable, another person I buy all of his work and give it away to new cooks and young cooks. He is so brave and honest.

                                                              please let me know what you think.

                                                              1. re: kariin

                                                                Thanks, kariin. I will seek out the book.

                                                                I'd enjoyed a lot of what Thorne had up at his website several years ago, but have never run across any copies at the library or book sales. Think that's because people, like you, are passing it on to friends rather than unloading it!

                                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                                  hey ellabee - I found all of mine used on Amazon or e-bay. maybe 1 in a used book store. every library has inter-library loan (usually free) so you can read before you buy. but just buy.

                                                                  I just now checked Amazon. Multiple copies of Outlaw, Simple Cooking, Pot on the Fire and Serious Pig - many for 1 - 5 cents per copy... yeah, you get hit for $3.99 each for s/h but you can get all 4 for less than $25 total. I really hope you'll get at least _Outlaw_.

                                                        2. There are a few cookbooks I've read like a history book or a dialogue from the author. They sit by my bedside in addition to the kitchen table.

                                                          - Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes by
                                                          Richard Sax. This is a James Beard winner and completely deserving. It goes into the history of each dessert, relevance of how it may impacted the culture, or vice versa.

                                                          - Any Maida Heatters cookbook. I especially love her Best cakes, best cookies, or her favourite chocolate recipes. She often speaks how she acquired the recipe and insight on who developed the recipe.

                                                          There are a few travelogue recipe books that are good but with most of those, they become dated quickly. Sadly one of the good Italian ones reference a lot of restaurants where the recipes come from and some of the restaurants are no longer.

                                                          One book that has great stories and pictures about China is called Feeding the Dragon. The recipes are not authentic but they're a decent approximation for a North American kitchen

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Nevy

                                                            Feeding the Dragon looks like it could be a fun read. I looked it up and could only think, what were their parents thinking? They named the sibling authors - Nate & Mary Kate (wait for it) Tate. Maybe it was fate? For them to leave the states at that date?

                                                            Sorry, too much coffee led me to this Dr. Seuss moment.

                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                              Perhaps the children needed to give their parents some fear for the embarrassing names. I won't give away their situation but I'd have a heart attack as a parent in one chapter.

                                                          2. Anything by Charles H. Baker, Jr., including the out-of-date "Esquire Culinary Companion to France."

                                                            1. John Folse's Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine--more than a listing of items: interesting background material and a wealth of recipes.

                                                              1. Diana Kennedy's:

                                                                The Cuisine's of Mexico
                                                                The Art of Mexican Cooking
                                                                My Mexico

                                                                All have as much "essay" in them as they do recipes. Diana is a traditionalist to the bone and reading through her early works helps one to understand why. A lot of what she writes is about the people - maids, friends - who introduced her to Mexican cooking, the ingredients, techniques, regional dishes, etc. Through the essays sprinkled throughout the books and the recipe headers she provides a very personal view as well as the appropriate context for the chapters of her books and the recipes in them.

                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                  Agree about Diana Kennedy. I went to Oaxaca in 2006 and forgot to take her "Cooks Tour of Mexico" with me. Huge party foul.

                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                    Ah yes; I have been eying up her works! What one would you say is the best? Amazon seem to be pretty keen on all of them. Bare in mind I am am absolute novice to Mexican cuisine!

                                                                    1. re: borisabrams

                                                                      Oh, I flubbed. The "Cooks Tour of Mexico" is from Nancy Zaslavsky. It is a really accessible book, and pretty inexpensive. She has plenty of anecdotes and local contacts. It is a good book to have.

                                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                                        That's a really good book too :-). I've somehow lost my copy and have been debating whether to repurchase or not. I probably should.

                                                                      2. re: borisabrams

                                                                        Her best? Probably Oaxaca al Gusto, it is a tour de force, but it's probably also not what you're actually looking for.

                                                                        The Cuisine's of Mexico was her first book. It is quite good in both the essay part of things as well as the recipes.

                                                                        The Art of Mexican Cooking is my personal favorite. It's very chatty about her experiences and the recipes usually all work.

                                                                        My Mexico is a compilation of her first 3 books and is probably your best bet. It has a lot of stories and essays in it.

                                                                        DK may, or may not, be the best book for a beginner. She is where I started many, many years ago, as she was just about the only authoritative source in English at that time. If your cooking skills are good to begin with, if you have a basic understanding that Mexican cuisine is not simply tacos, tamales and burritos buried under a non-descript sauce of some sort and then buried in melted yellow cheese, and if you've worked some with chiles, you can cook successfully from her books. I have, and have done so for years. Her early books don't necessarily have photos to walk you through things like wrapping a tamale, for example, but they do have really well written descriptions about how to do it, and those directions are usually accompanied by reasonably good drawings.

                                                                        The absolute BEST thing a novice to Mexican cooking can do is to check their Euro-centric cooking methods and knowledge at the kitchen door. As DK makes perfectly clear, Mexican cooking is not based on the European concept or idea of roux based sauces, menu progression and accompaniments, or use of spices and seasonings. If you can put aside most of what you've learned about traditional European/American cooking and let DK guide you through the Mexican kitchen, you can learn from her.

                                                                        DK can be very intimidating for the novice to Mexican cuisine, but she shouldn't be. She is a traditionalist and a purist. Her recipes contain a lot of detail and almost always work if you follow the detail. Be forewarned, Mexican cooking is laborious and so are some of her recipes :-D

                                                                        If you don't want to tackle DK for learning how to cook Mexican 2 books I recommend for novices to Mexican cooking are "Truly Mexican" by Roberto SantibaƱez and "Salsas That Cook" by Rick Bayless.

                                                                        Go for Diana, she is worth the effort

                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                          Thanks so much for the insight!
                                                                          I am one click away (as I always seem to be with cook books) from buying My Mexico - I see it has been recently re-published!
                                                                          I really have never gotten round to cooking mexican! I know it cant be all tacos etc - and thats why I am so desperate to discover what real mexican cooking is!
                                                                          I am actually much more of an Asian cook. I love my Wok and Chinese Cleaver! But i am ready to venture outside of my nice Chinese food bubble!

                                                                          Mexico is high on my list of new cuisines to engross myself in (along with Indian!)

                                                                          I must ask though; I don't eat pork (I know; this is a big problem with Mexican food!) Being quite an expert yourself, do you recon its easy to substitute Chicken for pork in many of her recipes? Or is it seriously pork-centric?

                                                                          On a side note, Rick Bayless has come up quite a bit on my search for the most ideal Mexican cookbook. How does he generally compare with DK?

                                                                          1. re: borisabrams

                                                                            Don't worry about the pork, it is only one of many proteins used in Mexican cooking and none of DKs books are particularly pork-centric.

                                                                            You can easily substitute chicken, turkey and even lamb in some cases. It's been my experience that with the exception of some of the soups, beef doesn't work very well as a pork substitute. You will also find a wide range of fish and seafood dishes as well as vegetarian dishes, although they are typically labeled as vegetarian. And then there is the whole "corn kitchen" which opens up the options substantially, and you can top the corn creations with anything and just about everything.

                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                              Ah excellent!!

                                                                              Just a last quick question. They are selling her book 'The essential Cuisine's of Mexico' which is a compilation of the best parts of The Cuisine's of Mexico, Mexican Regional Cooking, and The Tortilla Book.

                                                                              Though it has gotten mixed reveiws! Have you come across it at all? Its quite possible that 'My Mexico' is the same, just advertised differently in the US. I'd like to buy it today!

                                                                              This is what I am talking about:

                                                                              1. re: borisabrams

                                                                                I think I may have this book. Let me check tonight when I get home from work and I'll post back. I for sure have My Mexico, and if I do have Essential Cuisines (and I think I do), I'll compare them side by side and see how different they are.

                                                                                IIRC, Essential Cuisines is more recipe based and My Mexico has more stories and essays in it. I can tell you that The Tortilla Book is exceptional. It's a small volume packed with mostly masa based recipes. It's not particularly difficult to find at 2nd hand bookstores. Mexican Regional, I think, is out of print.

                                                                                The advantage of My Mexico is that it contains most of The Art of Mexican Cooking which is just a tremendous cookbook and resource. I think it was recently updated as well. My original copy is still holding together so I don't need to replace it yet :-)

                                                                            2. re: borisabrams

                                                                              I think that Rick Bayless' "Mexican Everyday". Would be a great starting point for learning about Mexican flavors and dishes. He provides lots of notes on substitutions and is really writing for the American cook.

                                                                              Kennedy is very good reading but the recipes can be challenging.

                                                                            3. re: DiningDiva

                                                                              You gotta get your hands in there and get dirty!

                                                                        2. One small gem is The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, by Darra Goldstein. It covers dining traditions, regional specialties, favorite stories...the recipes are delicious, too. It's a cuisine that is distinct from any other.

                                                                          1. Martin Picard has written a book on the history of the Maple Sugar Shacks in Quebec. It also includes recipes, link below:

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                              I went to the library and took the book out and brought it back the next day. It has some nudity in it and derogatory pictures of women, I did not understand the addition of the pictures. I retract my recommendation.

                                                                            2. Also check out Lynne Rossetto Kasper's books (these are the two that I have): "The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food" and "The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens." Plenty of history and stories mixed in along with great recipes producing great food.

                                                                              Actually, when I pulled these two books from my shelf to respond to your question it struck me that most if not all of my cookbooks DO contain the kind of stories you mention, they are what provide authenticity and represent a well-researched book. I have no recipe books that are merely a compiliation of recipes and I should shun a book if it failed to provide any frame of reference. Perhaps we could turn your question around and ask which cook books do not teach us something more than how to cook XYZ. Here's hoping that if we did it would be a shorter list.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: janniecooks

                                                                                I agree! All to often I end up buying cookbooks on-line. I get all hyped up only to get boring lists of generic recipes!

                                                                                Actually this tread has brought to light some great books dealing with food that I would not have even thought of before! Its all very exciting!
                                                                                "The Splendid Table" book definitely looks like something worth investigating!

                                                                                1. re: borisabrams

                                                                                  If you can read to the end of the prologue to Italian Country Table without getting a bit misty-eyed, you ain't human.

                                                                              2. The Supper of the Lamb, by Robert Farrar Capon. http://www.amazon.com/The-Supper-Lamb...

                                                                                The book purports to give a how-to for one recipe: "Lamb for Eight Persons Four Times". But it proceeds to give a marvelous discourse on life in the kitchen as a person who loves to cook. Capon gives side discussions of knives, dieting (he finds it ungenerous of spirit to go to a dinner party and say you're counting calories), and many other topics, ending finally with a discussion of the two types of heartburn -- the physical and the spiritual, recommending bicarb of soda for the former and offering healing words for the latter -- to be expected, since the writer is an Episcopal priest.

                                                                                I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I found my copy at an antique store when the book was formerly out of print, and I turn to it multiple times a year.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: jmckee

                                                                                  I am with you 110%, jmckee. Its one of the books I will buy anytime i see it and give away to friends who love food or are just starting to think and cook. or love to eat and think at the same time.

                                                                                  It gave me the encouragement to cook a leg of lamb for the first time - and then cook my way through all the following servings.

                                                                                  His other food books are equally great: Capon on Cooking.

                                                                                2. 'The Carolina Rice Kitchen' by Karen Hess

                                                                                  A deep, serious study of what is now known as 'Low Country' rice cooking, the food of the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and north Florida Sea Islands shaped entirely by the rice brought to the US and cultivated by enslaved people also brought here from west Africa. They were brilliant water engineers and cooks, responsible for the networks of dikes and flooded fields that run up and down the coast and the complete cycle of growing harvesting and cooking rice.

                                                                                  We can now cook and eat this rice and everything made from it. The essential dish of low country cooking is not shrimp and grits, it is a rice pillau (or perlo or pilow...)
                                                                                  with sea island red peas (or other peas/beans).

                                                                                  Eating that food while reading Karen Hess's book based on her research is a very special experience.

                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: kariin

                                                                                    That sounds very interesting. I only recently learned that the dominant crop in the South was rice before cotton took over. It's such a pleasure to expand my knowledge like that. I love culinary history as a topic. I have "Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery", which was edited and annotated by the same author, Karen Hess. It's so fascinating to read about what people used to eat, how they cooked it, etc.

                                                                                    1. re: weem

                                                                                      Thanks Weens. Where are you?

                                                                                      and here:

                                                                                      Before rice, the $ crop was indigo. But rice became the $$ engine for development of a coastline that seemed utterly useless, semi-tropical, malarial swamp, with tidal creeks that flooded, pluff mud and gaters, snappers and snakes. What could produce weath there? Rice.

                                                                                      It is severely labor intensive and demands careful hydro-engineering (physics, earth science of tides and water ph., dike design and construction, planting and harvesting). And the (wealthy, white) people who fled from the rebellions in what is now Haiti knew another crop that demanded intense work: sugar cane. But rice growing was also mastered in west Africa and there was a supply of the people who knew how to do this and could adapt those cultivation methods to a different continent.

                                                                                      The history behind Charleston and Low Country foodways is right there in front of us. You can visit remaining rice plantations all along the tidal rivers. I wish more people cared to look deep. It can be painful but the people who survived and the foodways that are still present deserve recognition and gratitude. As do the folks who've brought back the rice.

                                                                                      do you cook and eat rice?

                                                                                      1. re: kariin

                                                                                        I'm in California, just demonstrating how limited my grasp on history can be sometimes. I do enjoy filling in the gaps, particularly as it relates to culinary history, so thanks for all the info.

                                                                                        1. re: weem

                                                                                          And i'm also interested in the culinary histories of California - so many and so different and i know very little. Any suggestions for learning?? Are you interested in SC/southern food?

                                                                                          1. re: kariin

                                                                                            Culinary histories of California? That's an interesting question. When I think of California cuisine, I think of the more contemporary version (Alice Waters, Judy Rodgers, even Michael Pollan). But historical? There must be information about the cuisine of California when it was a Spanish colony, and, of course, there's the rich heritage of Native American cooking. And you're right, California is a large enough place that there would logically be regional variations. Well, just to pick a book from my city, you might try "Sumptuous Dining in Gaslight San Francisco", chronicling the dining scene in San Francisco (with recipes) from 1875-1915. It's out of print, but shouldn't be hard to find.

                                                                                            1. re: weem

                                                                                              thanks weem. I'm looking for it thru interlibrary loan.
                                                                                              I'll let you know what i find.

                                                                                            2. re: kariin

                                                                                              California Rancho Cooking: Mexican and Californian Recipes covers one slice of California culinary history. Not exactly strict culinary history, but MFK Fisher writes about the food she ate growing up in Whittier and Laguna Beach in the early part of the 20th C. in Among Friends.

                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                Emily, thanks for reminding me - i remember reading MFK's comments about California but forgot. I'll try to find
                                                                                                California Rancho. Are you living in CA now? It seems like there are really many many different Californias.

                                                                                                1. re: kariin

                                                                                                  Yes, grew up in SoCal and have been living in Northern California for a few years now missing the warmer weather I'm used to.

                                                                                      2. re: kariin

                                                                                        Its crazy how I never knew about Rice cultivation in America!
                                                                                        Your knowledge on the topic is inspiring!
                                                                                        (What book does this come from? The Karen Hess?

                                                                                        1. re: borisabrams

                                                                                          Thanks boris. No, this is from a monograph prepared for either McKissick or South Caroliniana library on the history (in brief) of rice cultivation in the tidal region of SC. Ms. Hess focuses on the culinary roots of the most representative prepared dish of this region, a rice and bean pilleau (pilau, perlow). She makes an argument and traces the history to support that argument. There are lots of perlow dishes in the region and all across the state: okra perlow, charleston red rice (tomato and bacon with rice), shrimp perlow, crab, chicken etc. Rice dishes like this are common everywhere dry land or wetland rice is grown. Louisiana jambalya is another kind of perlow.
                                                                                          Now, thanks to people who have worked for years, we have brought back this rice, known as Carolina gold, and the Sea Island red peas (aka field peas) that were best combined with that rice. Blackeye peas are more common in middle and upstate SC and elsewhere in the South, but red peas are like nothing else.
                                                                                          Are you interested in SC/southern food?

                                                                                          1. re: kariin

                                                                                            Ah I see....Ill look online at some used book store cites to see if that have the The Carolina Rice Kitchen!
                                                                                            Do they discuss the American rice history in the 'Seductions of Rice' cookbook? (Alford and Duguid).

                                                                                            Well to be honest, I'm from the UK and unfortunately have little access to Southern Food. All I really know of it is grits and fried chicken, i'm ashamed to admit. Though I am a history buff (my major in college), and the history of the Deep South was one of my favourite. So it is great to learn about the food! I have learnt a bit about the development of Soul Food but nothing substantial!

                                                                                            Okra perlow sounds lovely! But I cant seem to find any recipes online for it.
                                                                                            Have the rice dishes regained their popularity now across the State?

                                                                                            1. re: kariin

                                                                                              also check out Anson Mills not just for the "brought back products" but also for recipes and history.

                                                                                        2. Edna Lewis. No one else comes close.


                                                                                          The Edna Lewis Cookbook (1972
                                                                                          )The Taste of Country Cooking (1976)
                                                                                          In Pursuit of Flavor (1988)
                                                                                          The Gift of Southern Cooking (2003), co-authored with
                                                                                          Scott Peacock

                                                                                          1. Honey from a Weed, Patience Gray

                                                                                            It's as much essays as recipes. She's writing about indigenous Greek and Italian cooking--she was following her husband, a stone sculptor around the Mediterranean.

                                                                                            I think I learned about it from John Thorne, who references her.

                                                                                            It's a beautiful book.

                                                                                            1. Judy Rodgers' Zuni Cafe Cookbook is a fantastic read. It's not a cultural history, as such, but she writes so wonderfully about the _why_ of her recipes and techniques.

                                                                                              1. Take a look at Zarlea Martinez's "Food from my Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined" The book talks about her growing up and how her love for food devloped. More than just a list of recipies.

                                                                                                1. Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz is fantastic. He gives a history of the area and great explanations of the ingredients and recipes. Many are from home cooks. Everything I've made from this book has been delicious.


                                                                                                  1. An outstanding book in this area is Clifford A. Wright's "A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean, From the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Coast."

                                                                                                    Much of this 800-page book is a historical examination of the origins, development and spread of foods, agriculture, etc. throughout the Mediterranean, and it is full of excellent recipes. Most interesting is Wright's opinions regarding the crucial influence of Muslim foodways on the southern European coastal countries.

                                                                                                    1. Thought of another one while replying to another thread:

                                                                                                      Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia by Patience Gray.

                                                                                                      A beautiful cookbook that's part autobiography and travelogue, too.

                                                                                                        1. Duncan Hines was a real person. In the 1930's and 1940's he was a traveling salesman. In the 1940's and 1950's he was a restaurant reviewer and wrote a restaurant recipe newspaper column. From his travels around the U.S. he compiled recipes from the restaurants, motels and road houses where he stayed. In his later years he sold his name to be used on the now famous cake mixes, Duncan Hines.
                                                                                                          Here is a dessert book he wrote that you can read at Google Books:
                                                                                                          The Dessert Book by Duncan Hines (recipes gathered on his travels across America) - preview
                                                                                                          Here is a book of recipes he compiled on his travels across America in the 1930's and 40's.
                                                                                                          Adventures in good cooking (famous recipes) : and, The art of carving in the home (1947) by Duncan Hines (recipes gathered on his travels across America) - Full Text

                                                                                                          Here's an interesting bit of trivia. In the second book, on page 417, is a recipe for Graham Cracker Pie from the Sanders Cafe in Corbin, Kentucky. That's Colonel Sander's Cafe before he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. This book is from 1947. Colonel Sanders founded the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1952.
                                                                                                          Here's a direct link to that page.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                            A friend gave me a copy (not a facsimile) of Duncan Hines's 1948 book "Adventures in Good Eating: A Duncan Hines Book; Good Eating Places Along the Highways of America," his restaurant guidebook based on his travels all over. It was interesting to look at the entries for the areas we were familiar with and see how many of the places are still around, or were in our memory.


                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                              Antelope - thanks again for an informative reply. I appreciate your posts.

                                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                When you look at old American recipes, it's amazing how plain (or even bland) the food was back then. We use a lot more spices now.

                                                                                                              2. I love books like this! Cook books that really get deeper about the culture and country. I"d highly recommend:

                                                                                                                Madhur Jaffrey-A Taste of India
                                                                                                                Betty Groff-Good Earth & Country Cooking (A wonderful insight into Amish and Mennonite cooking and life. I own 2 copies.)
                                                                                                                Paula Wolfert-Mediterranian Grains and Greens (Foraging and Mediterranian/Middle Eastern cuisine. Wonderful stories. Makes me want to move there.)

                                                                                                                1. I almost always buy books like this, so, here goes (you've already mentioned two of my favourite authors). I tend to split them into 'something that I learn about cooking/technique' vs 'solid introduction to a new cuisine', personally, so I'll do that here:

                                                                                                                  "Something that I learn about cooking/technique"

                                                                                                                  Modernist Cuisine/Modernist Cuisine at Home - an incredibly thorough guide to cooking, the physics and microbiology involved, and a host of techniques.

                                                                                                                  Heston Blumenthals' Big Fat Duck Cookbook/Fat Duck Cookbook is fascinating for an insight into how he thinks about building dishes - I've had similar insights from Thomas Keller's books, but they're not as directly laid out as Blumenthal's stuff is.

                                                                                                                  Michael Ruhlman's 'Ratio', Keller's 'French Laundry', Frederic Bau's 'Cooking with Chocolate', Felder's 'Patisserie' are also excellent books that I won't get into detail about.

                                                                                                                  'Solid Introduction to a new cuisine"

                                                                                                                  I really, really rate David Thompson's Thai Food highly. Andy Ricker's 'Pok Pok' is also excellent, though much more about Northern Thai cuisine.

                                                                                                                  Paula Wolfert's 'Food of Morocco', Najmieh Batmanglij's 'Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies' and Claudia Roden's 'New Book of Middle Eastern Food' are my go-to books for the Middle East/North Africa. There's a gaping hole in my collection for African food unfortunately.

                                                                                                                  European - Claudia Roden's 'Food of Spain', Marcella Hazan's books, Elizabeth David, Richard Olney and Julia Child's books on French cooking all fall into this category. If you're after 'authority' on French food, Escoffier's 'Guide Culinaire' is my pick, but it lacks a lot of the depth you're mentioning.

                                                                                                                  South-east Asia: Again, David Thompson and Fuschia Dunlop. Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Ono and Harris' 'Japanese Soul Cooking', Ricker's 'Pok Pok' (Thai), Duguid's 'Burma: Rivers of Flavour', Phia Sing's 'Traditional Recipes of Laos' are all fantastic.

                                                                                                                  I don't cook a lot of food from the Americas, but will mention Maricel Presilla's Gran Cocina Latina as being excellent here.

                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: LiamF

                                                                                                                    That's a wonderful list and an impressive collection - one I truly aim to have! I like how you seperate the two - very useful!
                                                                                                                    Although I must say, I have duguid''s Burma book but for some reason I'm not such a fan. It is a wonderful book don't get me wrong, but I can't help feel it's lacking in something.

                                                                                                                    I think I'll need to buy pok pok - actually I hear that Ricker has two new books lined up!

                                                                                                                    Funnily enough, just last night I purchased David's provincial French cooking book. Was torn between that one, the French country cooking and Julia Child. I think I made the right decision! Which of David's books do you have? I know shamefully little about French cooking.

                                                                                                                    I also brought Roden's book on Spanish food last night. Whilst I can't wait to read it when It arrives, I am slightly worried about cooking from it as one person in my house doesn't eat pork/ ham and another doesn't eat shell fish. I feel that those ingredients will constitute a signicant part of a lot of the recipes. Will I be pleasantly surprised when I read the recipies??

                                                                                                                    1. re: borisabrams

                                                                                                                      I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, and find plenty to cook minus the pork and shellfish. Food of Spain was a Cookbook of the Month on Chowhound Home Cooking board a couple of years ago (alongside Moro: The Cookbook), so you might be interested in scrolling through the threads linked in this one, to see what people cooked and thought about it: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/846991

                                                                                                                      1. re: borisabrams

                                                                                                                        To break it down (again!):

                                                                                                                        Duguid's Burma: My honest thoughts on this is that it depends on whether you really like fish sauce/chilli heavy dishes. I've found that the recipes in this book -really- shine when you have the condiments from the initial pages available, the Tart-Sweet Garlic Chilli Sauce (Nga Yoke Thee Achin, pg 36) in particular. I'd -very- strongly recommend cooking the Kachin Chicken Curry (pg 159) and the Golden Egg Curry (pg 122) and some of the salads before writing it off. That being said, it may simply not work for you - I had a similar feeling about the highly-respected 'Into the Vietnamese Kitchen' by Andrea Nguyen.

                                                                                                                        Elizabeth David - I own French Provincial Cooking and An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. I probably get equal use from FPC and Julia Child's Mastering the Art, but I do find Child's recipes and writing slightly more accessible.

                                                                                                                        On Roden's Food of Spain - cured meats (pork, etc) and fish/shellfish feature extremely heavily in Spanish cooking, but there are dishes in this book that don't contain these ingredients (including the excellent spinach and chickpea soup). I think Spanish may have been a mis-step given your dietary requirements, but you will get at least -some- use from the book.

                                                                                                                        I've also left a comment about Pushpesh Pant's 'India: The Cookbook' further up for you.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LiamF

                                                                                                                          Thanks for getting back to me about the Pushpesh book. Its a shame - it looked promising! I have found similar things with other Phaidon publications.

                                                                                                                          Regarding the Burma book. Yes, I must say I haven't probably given it the attention that it deserves. I think that I need to set aside a couple of weeks and just go crazy with it; making the relishes as well. It doesnt help that the Shallots I have easy access to in the UK are rather flat and tasteless, unlike the Asian shallots.

                                                                                                                          My copy of Roden's Food of Spain arrived in the post on Friday - it has honestly not left my sight. I have absolutely fallen in love with it! I think she may have earned the spot of my favourite cookbook author. Everything from the presentation of the book, the wonderful selection of essays, as well as anecdotes literally had my heart fluttering when I first skimmed through it. Happily, there do seem to be a substantial number of recipes I can cook from. And whilst I would like more options, the sheer beauty of the book makes up for that. Can I ask, whilst there is no real way of creating the same flavour as the various Jamons that are called for, can you think of anything that comes close? I see they are salt cured - I'm thinking smoked turkey slices?

                                                                                                                          1. re: borisabrams

                                                                                                                            Hmm. Honestly, I don't think smoked turkey will work - jamon serrano doesn't have smoky notes to it at all (I don't recall seeing iberico or bellota in the book). I'm also really reaching to think of a substitute - it's a really unique taste, with lots of umami to it.

                                                                                                                    2. It's not been mentioned yet, so I'll put up another old classic - for British/English cooking.

                                                                                                                      Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management (still in print) in its original version is a treasure in many ways.

                                                                                                                      The recipes are exceptional and can for the most part be followed today without difficulty.

                                                                                                                      There are detailed descriptions on cookery from the point of view of principles rather than specific recipes, so that you not only learn to follow a recipe, but actually can start to understand technique, how to build a dish, recognising good ingredients, etc. etc.

                                                                                                                      Mrs Beeton provides all sorts of commentary on everything from animal husbandry to cultural patterns.

                                                                                                                      The style and descriptions give a tremendous insight into the traditional English mind-set.

                                                                                                                      It's a fascinating historical record of ideas, equipment, culinary fashion, and much more from the Victorian era.

                                                                                                                      Surprisingly, no more recent English cookbook comes close in terms of depth of cultural insight or even quality of recipes.

                                                                                                                      1. 'Recipes from Scotland' published in 1946
                                                                                                                        Some recipes: Hattik Kit
                                                                                                                        Feather Fowlie
                                                                                                                        Bawd Bree
                                                                                                                        Cullen Skink
                                                                                                                        Crappit Heids
                                                                                                                        Stoved Grouse (Argyll)
                                                                                                                        Really interesting little book.

                                                                                                                        1. One more that is on the Thompson Thai Food scale of comprehensiveness and culture/history material: the 2011 (latest) edition of Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij. It's a definitive book on a very food-focused culture.

                                                                                                                          She first wrote it in the 1980s, for the many expatriate Iranians in the US, and has substantially revised it twice to reflect increased availability of authentic ingredients, reader feedback, and some changing dietary attitudes. I don't own it yet, but plan to before the end of the year.

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                            She has another wonderful book called Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. Every recipe I've made from it has been wonderful. It discusses the culture and food of all the lands along the ancient silk road, so it covers some countries that you don't often see in cookbooks.

                                                                                                                            1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                              Argh! Another addition to the shortlist...

                                                                                                                              But I give myself a lot more leeway with holiday gifts. Thanks very much for the heads-up.

                                                                                                                              1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                Amy, you mentioned this book before, haven't you? Which recipes stood out for you? I've been thinking about adding a Persian book to my collection for a while and should really look at these two books. OK, of to Amazon :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                  Hi Irena!

                                                                                                                                  I've made a lot of great recipes from the book:
                                                                                                                                  Sicilian roasted pepper and eggplant salad
                                                                                                                                  Kurdish chickpea, cilantro and cumin salad
                                                                                                                                  Georgian rice salad with eggplant and tart cherries
                                                                                                                                  (now I know what I'm going to do with the eggplants I'm growing!)
                                                                                                                                  Shirazi cucumber and pomegranate salad
                                                                                                                                  Beijing hot and sour noodle soup
                                                                                                                                  Elam curried butternut squash and egg patties
                                                                                                                                  Persian cauliflower kuku
                                                                                                                                  Atara barberry and cumin polow
                                                                                                                                  Isfahani green bean and tomato braise
                                                                                                                                  Persian butternut squash braise
                                                                                                                                  Sichuan spicy stir-fry tofu
                                                                                                                                  Yemeni pan barley bread

                                                                                                                                  That barely scratches the surface of the many incredible looking recipes in the book. Clearly I need to get busy and cook more from it. To understand the breadth of this book, I'll list the chapters:

                                                                                                                                  introduction (50 pages of the history of the area and the foods there)
                                                                                                                                  fruit and vegetable braises
                                                                                                                                  pasta, pizza and bread
                                                                                                                                  pastries, desserts and candies
                                                                                                                                  teas, coffee and sherbets
                                                                                                                                  preserves, pickles and spices
                                                                                                                                  glossary and resources

                                                                                                                                  I really can't recommend this book highly enough.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                    thank you for such detailed reply, Amy! Since I wanted FoL for a long time and it looks to become a contestant of COTM, I bought it and can't wait for it to arrive. Maybe some recipes are repeats? I'll look for the Persian ones that you mentioned.