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Books for beginning a cookbook collection

I'm a foodie in the whole sense of the word. I'm passionate about both eating and cooking as well as ingredients and technique. I'm going to go shopping for cookbooks soon and want to buy books to grow my small collection. I'm not looking for generic, common recipes but for the bibles of the culinary world. I'm more interested in the techniques and ingredients of exotic cuisines. I already own the red plaid bhg cookbook which was good for me but not so much lately since I've grown so advanced in my cooking and want more authenticity and more of a challenge. I'm looking to buy Julia child's mastering the art of French cooking and Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. Any other recommendations of all time must haves?

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  1. Marcella Hazan's Italian cookbooks - "Classic Italian Cookbook", "More Classical Italian Cooking".

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    1. I don't think any book has taught me more about cooking than the Flavor Bible. Even though it has no recipes.

      1. I would recommend Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. A great resource!

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        1. re: cookingonions

          How To Cook Everything was so uninspiring to me, I got rid of it. I guess I'm not a fan of Bittman, whose recipes I find overly simple and often flavorless.

          For me, The Best Recipe is a more interesting version of the compendium type of book.

        2. Which ever classic cookbooks you choose. May I recommend not buying the most modern edition of them. a brand new cookbook will set you back $25 - $40. A used one that is one edition older will be less than $8. You get a lot more book for your dollar.

          1. Don't ever under rate the Joy of Cooking.

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            1. re: JudiAU

              Ditto. I have 50+ cookbooks and refer to The Joy of Cooking often. So comprehensive! OP, take care with which edition.

            2. Any book written by Jacques Pepin.

              1. Been growing my collection for a few years since high school and here are some from my collection that I would recommend.

                Jacques Pepin's New Complete Techniques <----practically the bible on technique. Many great chefs today learned from his La Technique and La Methode. This is a combination of those books.

                The Flavor Bible- great for when you get more advanced and confident enough without a recipe.

                What to Drink with What you Eat: It gives you ideal wine pairings for dishes. I also use these suggestions to guide me in choosing wines to cook with.

                Sauces by James Peterson

                The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart-breads
                The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Bernanbaum-cakes
                Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller - general baking...covers all grounds and is rich in instruction
                I have 2 pie books: Hoosier Mama as well as Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Both wonderful and I may get First prize Pies next.

                Regional cuisine authorities:

                Italian: Marcella Hazan

                You got Julia Child down with the French

                Thai Food by David Thompson is another favorite

                Japanese: Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

                Spanish: Catalan Cuisine by Colman Andrews

                China...specifically Sichuan: Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop

                Indian: 660 Curries by Raghavan IyerI

                Greek: anything by Diana Kochilas

                Middle Eastern: Claudia Roden

                Other books:
                Big fan of Thomas Keller so I'll also recommend Ad Hoc at Home and Bouchon. I love how he not only aims to just provide recipes but teach you too. The French Laundry is a great book but I rarely cook out of it due to the time and expense...mostly expense. His books were the first ever cookbooks i've bought so they have a special place in my heart.

                Anything by Yotam Ottolenghi is great. I have Jerusalem, Plenty, and Ottolenghi. Cant wait for Plenty More this fall.

                Avec Eric by Eric Ripert <---- im going to be honest. You dont really need to buy it. A lot of his recipes are available on his site aveceric.com. His site and book features recipes for the home kitchen. He specializes in seafood. I like his book Le Bernadin which is my go to for special occasion meals in anything seafood. It is surprisingly much more approachable than I thought, especially for a book featuring recipes from a michelin star restaurant. Some recipes do call for more expensive ingredients though which is expected

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                1. Yan-Kit's Classic Chinese: a good first Chinese cookbook; Barbara Tropp's China Moon and yes! to Fuschia Dunlop's work.

                  Into the Vietnamese Kitchen Andrea Nguyen

                  Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking: I bought this in the late 1980's when I hadn't even tasted Indian food yet but craved exotic. I have several of her books, and I think this has been reprinted. She has some books with more graphics than this, but it has all the recipes to get you started.

                  Arabesque by Claudia Roden (Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon)

                  Forgotten Skills of Cooking: Darina Allen

                  New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant (reprinted in 2000 I believe) for vegetarian

                  You may think you don't want something as trite as the Joy of Cooking.....I didn't think I wanted it either until I was given a nice large hardback. What a load of great information. I made my first meringue pie from there; found may family favorites and have more handwritten notes in those margins! I return to it for classics and techniques often.

                  How to Cook a Wolfe: MFK Fisher

                  1. I would recommend any of America's Test Kitchen books as they focus on good technique, there is a complete book of the last number of years presently on the market.

                    1. Before you start purchasing books go to your public library and start borrowing books that seem to appeal to you. Take them home and read through them. If it seems like a book you would like to cook from then buy it. I do this routinely and often I am glad I did it, because after reading through decided it was not one I want to own.

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                      1. I'm not sure which cuisines you are most interested in since "exotic" is pretty general but I'll suggest Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking by Paula Wolfert and Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghil.

                        1. I'd suggest looking at the COTM archive
                          and then going to your library and checking out the books and trying them out.