Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Cook's Library: International Cookbooks

As you may know, I specialize in a variety of ethnic cuisines in my Personal Chef service. Whenever I travel, I like to find cookbooks detailing the local cuisines. While at home, I also like to peruse the aisles of the bookstore for good resources to deepen my understanding. Here are just a few recommendations for basic books about various regional cuisines.

The Greatest Dishes, Around the World in 80 recipes
By Anya von Bremzen © 2004 Harper Collins Publishers

This book gathers the classics together in one volume. All the best known dishes of various international cuisines. You won't find any surprising new and regional delights, but great interpratations of the classics of world cuisine.

For Umbrian Cuisine:

Ciao Italia in Umbria, Recipes and Reflections from the Heart of Italy
By Mary Ann Esposito © 2002, St. Martin's Press

This is one of many books accompanying Mary Ann Esposito's PBS series, "Ciao Italia!" It's pretty readily available in the US, and her adaptations make the recipes easy for American cooks. She gives brief, well written descriptions and personal reflections on each recipe.

Umbria in Bocca
By Antonella Santolini, © 2004 Edizione Gulliver

I bought this book in Perugia, but all the recipes are trilingual, with Italian first, then English translations, accompanied by hand written ilustrations in the regional dialect. This book is part of a 19 volume series, "La Cucina delle Regioni d'Italia".

Jewish Cooking: The Traditions, techniques, ingredients and recipes
By Marlena Spieler, © 2002 Hermes House

This book gives a great overview of Jewish history, kosher laws, sephardic and ashkenazi traditions, and Jewish recipes from all over the world. The pictures are wonderful.

The Foods of Israel Today
By Joan Nathan, © 2001 Alfred A. Knopf

More than 300 recipes reflecting the diverse influences on current cooking in Israel, including Nathan's reflections, and photos of the markets and kitchens, as well as street stalls of Israel.

A Taste of Africa
By Tebereh Inquai, © 1998 Africa World Press, Inc.

Just as the name says, Inquai gives us a little taste of many foods from around the continent, with notes on regional differences. Recipes are arranged by category (snacks, meat, chicken, sweets, etc.) with a note about the country of origin accompanying each recipe. Who knew making Ethiopian Injera bread was so easy!

Vietnamese Home Cooking
By Robert Carmack, Didier Corlou, Nguyen Thanh Van © 2003 Lansdowne Publishing

Great photos, a detailed section describing Vietnamese ingredients, and easy to follow step by step recipes.


At 6:30 AM, August 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think of Diana Kennedy? Her My Mexico has been on my wishlist for, I'm ashamed to say, years now.


At 11:12 AM, August 07, 2005, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

I'm not familiar with her writing. As a New Mexican, for years I suffered from the "Our food is the REAL food" phenomenon, and thought that anyone writing about Mexican food, especially "gringos" couldn't be taken seriously. I know, I know, ridiculous. Rick Bayless proved that wrong. He writes about Mexico and the rich diversity of foods there so well. You really do see the different inlfuences that make these cuisines really distinct, so the catch-all "Mexican" just doesn't cut it. I'll have to look out for Diana Kennedy then. Thanks for the comment, but next time leave your name :-)

At 11:28 AM, August 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark wrote:
You really do see the different inlfuences that make these cuisines really distinct, so the catch-all "Mexican" just doesn't cut it.

Oh, I know: any generalizing label is reductive. Thanks for the tip about Rick Bayless, whom I haven't read yet.


At 11:56 AM, August 07, 2005, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

Oh Caren, I know you!

That description sounds tantalizing. Pollo en Pipian Verde (Chicken in Pumpkin Seed Sauce) from the State of Puebla sounds great. In Northern New Mexico there is also a pumpkin seed sauce. I wonder what the similarities or differences are.


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