Frequent fliers have spent the past year mentally teleporting themselves into exotic corners of the globe, epic natural wonders, hell, even vacation destination just a stone’s throw away (thank you, COVID-19). Some people scratch the itch by diving into travel-themed Netflix shows or scrolling through far-flung Instagram geotags. Others find respite in planning their next getaway. But for many, reconnecting with travel is as easy as stepping into the kitchen. How? International cookbooks.
Food provides an intimate peek into different cultures—bridging geography with history, heritage, and culinary customs. The aromas and flavors of a well-cooked meal can be powerful enough to transport you back in time or across the globe. And oftentimes, the best way to understand and appreciate a new destination is through its cuisine.
So, while your passport might not be getting stamped at the moment, consider adding one of these international cookbooks to your shelf. Each one expands beyond a simple list of ingredients and effortlessly captures the essence of a destination. While it might not be as satisfying as taking an actual vacation, at least you’ll be able to add a few new recipes to your repertoire.
Eat Your Way Around the World With These International Cookbooks
1. How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory
Reveling in its remoteness, Tasmania is a land of extremes, marked by its craggy, salt-crusted coastlines, undulating rain forests, and alpine plateaus. Chef Analiese Gregory offers an unfiltered glimpse into this spell-binding Australian island-state through her latest project, How Wild Things Are. Published in the U.S. in February, the book covers Gregory’s upbringing in New Zealand, her escape to southern Tasmania after years of cutting her teeth in Europe’s finest kitchens, and her new adventures down under, including hunting, foraging, diving, fishing, quarantine cooking, and more. On the verge of opening her new 10-seat restaurant in the Huon Valley, the book is filled with more than 50 adventurous recipes and pays homage to Tassie’s unique ingredients and culinary traditions. Throw Gregory’s stunning photography and immersive narrative into the mix and you get a final product that’s nearly impossible to put down.
2. Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking by Einat Admony and Janna Gur
During typical years, travelers venture to Israel in droves, eager to explore its religious roots, natural beauty, world-class culture, and pulsating nightlife . But for epicures, the country’s culinary temptations are just as alluring. Israeli food is a vibrant assemblage, drawing influence from places like Libya, Persia, Yemen, Morocco, the Balkans, and the Levant. This convergence is best witnessed in Israel’s shuks, or markets—which is precisely the concept behind Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking. Penned by chef Einat Admony and food writer Janna Gur, this award-winning cookbook contains more than 140 recipes told through incredible photo essays of nine celebrated shuks. The recipes can be followed by any home cook and range from beloved Israeli mainstays (like simmered stews and chopped grain salads) to inventive twists (like surprising shakshukas and unexpected condiments).
3. Houston’s Chef Table: Extraordinary Recipes From The Bayou City’s Iconic Restaurants by Arthur Meyer
Houston is one of the largest cities in the nation, but it’s also one of the country’s most diverse. In fact, one in four Houstonians are foreign born. So it should come as no surprise that the bustling city’s ever-evolving culinary scene reflects its multicultural influences. Arthur Meyer’s latest cookbook, Houston’s Chef Table, beautifully showcases that there’s so much more worth biting into beyond barbeque and Tex-Mex. Meyer, a renowned restaurant and bakery consultant (with five other international cookbooks under his belt) tapped some of the city’s best chefs for this project. Thai, Indian, Caribbean, Brazilian, and Turkish foods all make appearances. The book includes signature “at home” recipes from 70 of Houston’s iconic establishments. Plus, the pages are sprinkled with immersive images depicting some of Space City’s most recognizable landmarks.
4. Made in Mexico: The Cookbook: Classic and Contemporary Recipes from Mexico City by Danny Mena with Nils Bernstein
There’s no denying Mexico City is one of the world’s most exciting culinary destinations. From ramshackle puestos (or street food stands) to celebrated eateries that rank among the best on Earth, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Made in Mexico by chef Danny Mena (with Nils Bernstein) perfectly captures this dynamic juxtaposition, infusing inspiration from the capital city’s countless fondas, loncherías, taco stands, and famed destination restaurants. The book includes more than 100 recipes for breakfast, antojitos (or snacks), salads, ceviches, main dishes, desserts, and more. Each embodies the depth and diversity of modern Mexican cuisine, expertly combining regional staples with creative riffs on classic dishes. Mena also uses his tome to share insider tips about his favorite Mexico City pit-stops, making it part cookbook, part travel guide for your next south-of-the-border escape.
5. Tasting Georgia: A Food and Wine Journey in the Caucasus by Carla Capalbo
Not too long ago, Georgia was a completely under-the-radar destination. It sits quietly at the intersection of Europe and Asia between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. Although it still maintains an element of mystery, it’s now become one of the region’s most visited tourism hot spots. What’s more, it attracts frugal backpackers and well-heeled globetrotters alike. With a climate comparable to the Mediterranean, Georgian cuisine is known for its use of pungent herbs, vegetable-forward dishes, and artisan-made comfort food (like khachapuri, a mouthwatering cheese-stuffed bread). It’s also one of the oldest wine-making regions in the world. In Tasting Georgia, award-winning food writer and photographer Carla Capalbo highlights why the country is such an intriguing gastronomic destination. Proving international cookbooks are multidimensional: This vegetarian-friendly assortment includes more than 70 recipes and covers Georgian history, authentic cooking techniques, and practical travel insights.
6. In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen
In Bibi’s Kitchen is the brainchild of Somali chef Hawa Hassan (who also founded the popular Basbaas Sauce condiment line) and food writer Julia Turshen. The moving collaboration focuses on grandmothers (or bibis) from eight different African nations. South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea are the backbone of the spice trade. Packed with 75 authentic recipes, the cookbook features regional specialties such as matoke (stewed plantains with beans and beef), kicha (a type of Eritrean flatbread), and shiro (ground chickpea stew). This critically acclaimed cookbook-meets-travelogue also brims with generational wisdom and universal themes. Each bibi reveals deeply personal anecdotes that touch on topics like love, loss, migration, refuge, and sanctuary. Additionally, the stirring photography was shot on location by Khadija Farah, imparting an incredible sense of place.
7. My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water by Betty Liu
Few cities are as evocative as Shanghai, the glittering metropolis sprawling along China’s central coast. Revered for its architectural wonders, world-class shopping, and creative ingenuity, the city’s culinary scene is also quickly on the rise, with Shanghainese restaurants popping up all over the globe. Betty Liu’s family has deep roots in Shanghai and the bordering Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions. She grew up on the flavor-packed recipes, passed down through generations, that now fill the pages of her debut cookbook, My Shanghai. Released in March 2021, the sumptuous work takes an intimate look at the people and family traditions that define the cuisine. Organized by season, it includes more than 150 photographs and 100 time-honored recipes, ranging from well-known fare (like wontons and weekday stir-fries) to personal favorites (such as her father-in-law’s prized Nanjing salted duck). Best of all, it’s written specifically for home cooks, enabling readers to enjoy centuries-old dishes in the context of how people cook today.
8. Cakenhagen by Torben Bang
Copenhagen has long attracted foodies looking for a next-level gastronomic getaway. But no trip to Denmark’s capital would be complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens, the city’s whimsical amusement park dating back to 1843. It’s so legendary it even inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland. Cakenhagen serves as the attraction’s signature pastry shop, whipping up everything from Danish cream cakes to French macarons. Head pastry chef Torben Bang wrote Cakenhagen to celebrate the art of Danish confections. Bang also shares a selection of recipes for bakers hoping to recreate the adored treats in their own kitchens. The collection is a must-have edition for anyone with a serious sweet tooth, featuring pies, mousses, cakes, cookies, macarons, pastries, and so much more. International cookbooks that double as coffee table books? Double whammy.
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