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Stock Your Kitchen With These 10 Essential International Cookbooks

Feb 19 2013 - 4:25am

Hoping for an easy way to broaden your culinary horizons? Look no further than a new cuisine. Before you raise your hand in protest to even more restaurant dining, hear me out: the best way to familiarize oneself with a particular country's food is by actually cooking it yourself.

We promise this proposition will be both fun and easy, thanks to the following tomes, each of which is written by a foremost expert in the cuisine. Behold: 10 definitive international cookbooks that are essential to any globe-trotter's kitchen.

Spanish: The New Spanish Table

As a lover of all things Spanish, I researched high and low to find the seminal cookbook on Spain in the States. I quickly discovered that it's Anya von Bremzen's The New Spanish Table [1] ($23). The book is full of colorful stories and tested recipes that stretch from Valencia to Basque Country to La Mancha and everything in between.

Vietnamese: Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

The food of Vietnam can be as abstruse as it is inspiring. With Into the Vietnamese Kitchen [2] ($35) — which includes everything from recipes to a pantry ingredient primer to the history of Vietnamese cuisine — Andrea Nguyen demystifies the country's complex cuisine without ever dumbing it down.

Italian: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Marcella Hazan is largely credited with bringing traditional Italian cooking to England and the United States. Her attention to detail and reliable recipes — like a three-ingredient tomato sauce [3] that quickly became famous — make Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking [4] ($35) worth keeping around.

Chinese: Land of Plenty

Chinese-speaking Fuchsia Dunlop spent 15 years exploring China and its cuisine, even studying at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. Land of Plenty [5] ($30), her cookbook on authentic Szechuan recipes, is the closest you'll get to eating in Chengdu without actually flying there.

Greek: The Olive and the Caper

Author Susanna Hoffman refers to The Olive and the Caper [6] ($20) as "adventures in Greek cooking," and these are adventures, indeed. In the book's more than 700 pages, Hoffman — part recipe developer, part scholar and storyteller — covers not only recipes and obscure ingredients (mizithra cheese, anyone?), but also the role food plays in everyday Greek life.

French: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Two words: Julia Child [7]. Need we say more? Her two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking [8] ($90) not only made her a publishing legend, but has also taught tens of millions of cooks how to make boeuf bourguignonne as Burgundians enjoy it.

Indian: Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking

Madhur Jaffrey didn't learn to cook as a child growing up in Delhi, but after acting and hosting cooking shows on BBC, she became one of the world's preeminent ambassadors of Indian cooking. Her eponymous title Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking [9] ($35) offers illustrated how-tos for everything from vindaloo to palak paneer.

Moroccan: Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco

When cookbook author Paula Wolfert published Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco [10] ($20) in 1973, she put one of the world's great cuisines on the American map. The book became so known for its tagines and bisteeya that in 2008, it was inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Mexican: The Essential Cuisines of Mexico

Diana Kennedy is to Mexican what Julia Child [11] is to French; in fact, she's even been nicknamed the "Julia Child of Mexican cuisine." Her 2009 book, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico [12] ($23), which combines three of her previous bestsellers with more than 300 recipes from various regions in Mexico, doesn't shy away from true Mexican ingredients like cactus, lard, or beef tripe.

Russian: Please to the Table

Classic Eastern European food can be hard to come by these days, so if you've got an itch for borscht, then your best bet is to make it at home. If you're looking for somewhere to start, then Please to the Table [13] (from $42), by Moscow-born recipe developer Anya von Bremzen, is the definitive cookbook on Soviet cuisine.

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