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Great English Language Cookbooks Published Outside the US


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American food enthusiasts, even the least parochial, tend to focus their attentions on cookbooks published in the US, a trend that has a variety of problems. That means that a lot of important cookbooks published in the UK, Australia, Canada, and many other countries simply never make a splash here.

Given the collective, international reach of the Society, we can address this dilemma. What are the English-language cookbooks that Americans really should know about? They can focus on any cuisine or technique, but shouldn't be published in the US. For example, that knocks out David Thompson's Thai Food and Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast, both essential books in my library but both republished in the states.

I'm talking about books like Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery, an amazing little book that all fans of the hog should have and that is published in London. What are other titles worthy of our attentions?

Chris Amirault

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... What are the English-language cookbooks that Americans really should know about? They can focus on any cuisine or technique, but shouldn't be published in the US. (For example, that knocks out David Thompson's Thai Food and Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast, both essential books in my library but both republished in the states.

...

Chris, that's a very open question, inviting a very long answer.

Nevertheless, you've made it more difficult with your "not republished" restriction.

Because -

1/ Generally we neither know nor care whether something has been republished - especially when the US republisher changes the title

and

2/ Republished and 'americaniZed' it becomes a different work, for all I know devalued with cup measures and the like.

and anyway

3/ Just because a book is listed on Amazon dot com, does that mean that its 'known' in the US? Let alone whether its republished or not.

I have no idea the extent of the bowdlerisation suffered by

Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf" aka "The Art of Handmade Bread", or "Rick Stein's Seafood" becoming "Rick Stein's Complete Seafood" as it crossed the pond

Alan Davidson's "North Atlantic Seafood" in its Ten Speed Press incarnation

or how "The Cooks Book" might have fared in translation, let alone in becoming a 'Concise Edition'.

Patience Gray's "Honey from a weed" is listed on dot com, but at $35 for a paperback that sells on Amazon dot co dot uk for £13 (maybe $20) it is probably terribly obscure!

So, sorry, way too hard to answer the question as posed.

Regarding Darienne's comment about the Sainsbury cookbooks, yes they were brilliant.

Sainsbury is one of the UK's four major supermarket chains.

Some years ago, they sought out (mainly) expert authors and tasked them with writing extremely focussed little cookbooks (monographs you might say), yet aimed at the interested home cook.

And then they sold them at a bargain price.

I recently found (in a Charity shop) Jane Grigson's work on the Cooking of Normandy ... and I hadn't even known it existed.

Most titles were only available for a matter of a very few months.

But some have got as far as Utah! (And now Canada?)

The nearest current offering, in quality terms, is Waitrose Food Illustrated, a monthly magazine from the Waitrose supermarket.

Fortunately, much is published on the interweb thingy - http://www.waitrose.com/inspiration/wfi.aspx

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Nevertheless, you've made it more difficult with your "not republished" restriction.

Because -

1/ Generally we neither know nor care whether something has been republished - especially when the US republisher changes the title

and

2/ Republished and 'americaniZed' it becomes a different work, for all I know devalued with cup measures and the like.

and anyway

3/ Just because a book is listed on Amazon dot com, does that mean that its 'known' in the US? Let alone whether its republished or not.

All good points. Ignore that restriction, then, and have at it. The goal here is to get as many important titles in the list as possible, not to send everyone to do research. :wink:

Chris Amirault

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Chris, you mentioned Jane Grigson already. I want a copy of French pork & charcuterie - I've had it on back order with Amazon for more than two years ! Her 'Good Things' is also, well, very good, with interesting commentary about idiosyncratically British things. Her 'Fish Book' is excellent and incredibly detailed and thorough.

I have often used Elizabeth David's most famous 'French Provincial Cooking' as bedtime reading (maybe I have both feet firmly stuck in the 70's :unsure: ). Her less-well-known 'English bread & yeast cookery' is also supposed to be excellent - another book I want.

I have one of those Sainsbury books too, 'Curries' by Pat Chapman, picked up at a checkout in the 80's. I never got into using it extensively - much of it follows restaurant technique in using a batch-made curry sauce as a base for the dishes, but the recipes that we've cooked from it have always been excellent. I go back to 'Hasina kebabs' again and again, and I was only inches from posting his butter chicken in the 'reputation makers' thread - it never fails to stun. Lamb pasanda is also superb. By contrast my experience with one of Madhur Jaffrey's books has been more mixed.

Is the Family Circle Recipe Encyclopedia available in the States ? It's a good source for standard recipes for a lot of Anglo stuff that'll be foreign to Americans.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I would say that probably the most popular English cookbook author in the past few years is Delia Smith. She has written a number of cookbooks including "Delia Smith's Complete Cookery" as well a whole series of others. Here's a link to her very good website.

Of course, Jamie Oliver is a huge hit in the UK & has a number of books out. Currently on British TV he's doing a tour of the USA and our cooking. In the latest episode he participated in a BBQ competition in Florida.

Yet another popular cookbook author is Rick Stein famous for his restaurant, fish cookery and his dog, Sparky,in his TV series.

Then there's Nigella Lawson who's good and famous as the daughter of a British government cabinet minister.

I could go on as the British market for cookbooks is very vibrant and there are lots of new titles every year How many of these get published in the USA under a slightly different name is something I don't follow.

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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I'm a big fan of Denis Cotter, especially Paradiso Seasons. I could spend hours just looking at the pictures in that one! It is fancy vegetarian food from his restaurant Cafe Paradiso, but I have found that a lot of the dishes can be made much more accessible for everyday cooking by just taking one of the more "cheffy" elements out. There are definitely more great Irish books and cooks, but I'll have to have a think about them later!

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I have one of those Sainsbury books too, 'Curries' by Pat Chapman, picked up at a checkout in the 80's. I never got into using it extensively - much of it follows restaurant technique in using a batch-made curry sauce as a base for the dishes, but the recipes that we've cooked from it have always been excellent. I go back to 'Hasina kebabs' again and again, and I was only inches from posting his butter chicken in the 'reputation makers' thread - it never fails to stun. Lamb pasanda is also superb.

Here's the recipe for Pat Chapman's Butter Chicken.

Edited by fooey (log)

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Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf.

It's been republished in the states as The Art of Handmade Bread.

The republished version has metric and volume weights and uses Fahrenheit. I'm not certain, but I think even the ingredients have been changed (or names of ingredients), much easier to source. I remember reading the original and asking, "What on earth is that ingredient?" or "Where am I going to find that flour?" Not so with the republished version.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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This is probably pushing the topic a bit, as they're already popular in the US, but I'd add English writer and chef Fuchsia Dunlop's books.

Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province

Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Here's the recipe for Pat Chapman's Butter Chicken.

Hi, Fooey. That was a nice surprise - I'm sure that'll make great butter chicken, too, but the recipe he gives in Sainsbury's 'Curries' is different. No tomatoes or tomato puree in the sauce; no paprika; no 'onion masala sauce' or other standard sauce; the chicken tikka preparation isn't a separate recipe - a question of format only of course, but their are big differences, in fact: no cream or cream cheese in the marinade; it uses mild curry paste rather than garam masala, it uses vinegar, chillis and ginger, etc. - much more highly-flavoured, all round. Are we allowed to post published recipes ?

I should also mention that Pat C's recipe for mild curry powder / paste from the same book is the blend I usually make to this day.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Chris, that's a very open question, inviting a very long answer.

Agreed... imagine being asked "what are the greatest cookbooks published in the US?" The list would be exhaustive and exhausting, as it is in this case.

If I were to recommend one Australian book it would be The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander. This is by far the most influential and revered cookbook in modern Australian cooking. Stephanie Alexander is sort of the Julia Child or Delia of Australia, but she was also the chef in her hugely influential restaurant for several decades.

The book is in an encyclopaedia format, an A-Z of ingredients with recipes for each, information about suggested flavour pairings, information about different cooking methods, etc. A magnificent book for anyone, not just Australians.

(Incidentally, you made the choice of one book a lot easier for me by ruling out Thai Food).

As far as British books go, my favourite contemporary British book is Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli, but I don't know if that has been republished in the US.

Edited by mattsea (log)
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Hi, Fooey. That was a nice surprise - I'm sure that'll make great butter chicken, too, but the recipe he gives in Sainsbury's 'Curries' is different. No tomatoes or tomato puree in the sauce; no paprika; no 'onion masala sauce' or other standard sauce; the chicken tikka preparation isn't a separate recipe - a question of format only of course, but their are big differences, in fact: no cream or cream cheese in the marinade; it uses mild curry paste rather than garam masala, it uses vinegar, chillis and ginger, etc. - much more highly-flavoured, all round. Are we allowed to post published recipes ? I should also mention that Pat C's recipe for mild curry powder / paste from the same book is the blend I usually make to this day.

Oops, sorry. :huh: That means I have another cookbook to buy.

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Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Hi all.

There are more sophisticated books, but the one recipe book to be found in almost all New Zealand kitchens is Edmonds Cookery Book (there never seems to be an apostrophe in 'Edmonds' - don't ask me why). It was originally produced to promote Mr Edmonds' baking powder, which he first sold in 1879. The book's been going since 1908 and reputedly sells some 200,000 a year, making it our biggest selling book. There's short article in Wikipedia, a bit more history here and even a cut-down virtual version (which works quite well) here. Environmentalists should not take the 'cooking with kiwis' line too literally ...

Edmonds.jpg

I recommend the rock cakes, but double the recipe and make them MUCH bigger than recommended. Also sprinkle a little white sugar on top before they go into the oven.

Hungry now ...

Bye,

Leslie

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If I were to recommend one Australian book it would be The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander. This is by far the most influential and revered cookbook in modern Australian cooking. Stephanie Alexander is sort of the Julia Child or Delia of Australia, but she was also the chef in her hugely influential restaurant for several decades.

The book is in an encyclopaedia format, an A-Z of ingredients with recipes for each, information about suggested flavour pairings, information about different cooking methods, etc. A magnificent book for anyone, not just Australians.

I completely agree about The Cook's Companion, my husband is Australian and my Mother-in-law gave it to us for Christmas one year. The fact that it's arranged by ingredient makes it lots of fun to just leaf through for ideas.

I've also enjoyed some of the Marie Claire cookbooks. Here's a link with some of the Marie Clare ones listed.

purplechick

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water drinkers." --Cratinus, 5th Century BCE, Athens

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Mattsea - Stephanie's book is certainly here, but I can't comment on its popularity. If I remember, I'll ask a foodie bookshop person I'm seeing on Sunday at our market and report back.

Bye,

Leslie

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I sort of find the initial question of this thread a bit odd (though no disrespect to Chris). I mean, how long is a piece of string? There are decades of intellectually, culinarily, technically and/or visually stunning books that might be mentioned.

An eclectic list might include: The Constance Spry Cookery Book, French by Damien Pignolet, numerous Elizabeth David titles, the new Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander, various Nigel Slater titles, Cheese Slices by Will Studd, Desserts by Christine Manfield, The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon, The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, Food in England by Dorothy Hartley, some books by Claudia Roden, Elisabeth Luard, Robin Howe, Diana Henry, Keith Floyd, ...

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I sort of find the initial question of this thread a bit odd (though no disrespect to Chris). I mean, how long is a piece of string? There are decades of intellectually, culinarily, technically and/or visually stunning books that might be mentioned.

No disrespect taken -- and, in this case, the topic can be as long as we want. I started it because I know dozens of people who can converse intelligently about cookbooks without mentioning most of this vast swath out of ignorance. It's also interesting to see who is and isn't mentioned on different lists. For example, from this paragraph:

An eclectic list might include: The Constance Spry Cookery Book, French by Damien Pignolet, numerous Elizabeth David titles, the new Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander, various Nigel Slater titles, Cheese Slices by Will Studd, Desserts by Christine Manfield, The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon, The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, Food in England by Dorothy Hartley, some books by Claudia Roden, Elisabeth Luard, Robin Howe, Diana Henry, Keith Floyd, ...

I'm quite familiar with Elizabeth David, Nigel Slater, Anna Thomas, and Claudia Roden; Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook is one of the most well-worn books in my house. However, I've never heard of many of these other authors, and I'm eager to learn more about them.

For example, Dorothy Hartley's Food in England seems like an essential text for anyone interested in English-language cookbooks and English cuisine (a recipe for sloe gin!), and it's been mentioned on this forum exactly three times in almost a decade. That wrong must be righted!

Chris Amirault

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Chris,

One thing that has annoyed me slightly about eGullet (as a long-time lurker, newly registered poster) is the US-centric nature of some of the discussion. It's understandable given the demographics of the board's participants, but slightly disappointing that some people would ignore manifestly magnificent cookbooks just because they're published elsewhere. I suppose I'm used to the way things are here (Australia), where domestic cookbooks fight for shelf space on equal terms with British, American and other tomes.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Stephanie Alexander is the clear #1 among Australian cookbook authors, and I thoroughly recommend her Cook's Companion.

I'm also a fan of Michel Roux Jr's books Sauces and Eggs, and all of the River Cafe books.

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mattsea, I don't think anyone ignores things because of provenance; if we did, this topic would have far fewer hits. However, I think that we're ignorant of things because of provenance, so thanks for the contributions.

I'm increasingly eager to find Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion, though many of her other books also look interesting.

Chris Amirault

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Hi, Mattsea. As a Scot now living in Japan (surely part of an American sphere of influence) for many years, I'm surprised how very little exposure I ever got to North American food when in the UK. We knew about Hot Dogs and some of us who had exotic connections came across things like Brownies. Otherwise, "who knew ?", even if in younger years we grew up unaware that things like Heinz, Kraft and ketchup are American. Likewise, upside-down food - a Kiwi buddy here turned me on to Edmonds; Family Circle was the standard for Aussie cooking in the UK, when it was represented (and as far I knew it), this of course back in the 70's and early 80's.

What's your favourite Canadian cookbook ? I bought a big, pretty, colourful one on Amazon as a present for a Canuck friend some years ago and I wish I could remember which one. For me the lack of a librarian service at Amazon is its biggest weakness. They've replaced the high street bookstore but they're nickel-and-diming us on knowledgable storekeepers. A day or two ago I went back to look for Canadian cookbooks - (1) there's no category for them as you 'drill down' through what turn out to be very limited national categories, (2) a search for <canadian food> is unsatisfactory, and (3) user comments are some guide, but they're sparse and the only other guidance available is the publishers'. Hopeless.

eGullet is quite American, naturally as you say, but for me stands out amongst American web enterprises for the extent of its internationalism, and I think Chris, an American and one of the movers and shakers here, starting this topic is a reflection of that.

Edited by Blether (log)

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Hi Blether, one easy way to find Canadian cookbooks is to search by the publisher. Whitecap and Douglas & McIntyre are big names. I think there's at least one more, but it escapes me now. (Edit: It's two more publishers: Key Porter and Firefly Books.)

Speaking of which, one of my favorite baking books (I'm so predictable) was published in both England and Canada- it's Claire Clark's Indulge. Interestingly, she's the head pastry chef at The French Laundry so I don't know what happened there (er, it may be a simple case of just her being British to begin with).

I'm kind of saddened going through my shelves- there's not a lot of non-US titles: I have Jamie Oliver ones that I'm not ashamed to say I actually like (especially later on, post-"Jamie's Kitchen"- ugh), Elizabeth David, "Maze" by Jason Atherton and Gordon Ramsay, Nigella's "How to Eat". I also recall really, really wanting a Neil Perry title or two on the shelves here.

Also, there's the Phaidon Titles if you're a fan: Vefa's Kitchen, Creole, 1080 Recipes, I Know How to Cook, Terrine, Pork and Sons. Murdoch of Australia has also published Stephane Reynaud titles (Rotis and Ripailles).

Edited by jumanggy (log)

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Hi Blether, one easy way to find Canadian cookbooks is to search by the publisher. Whitecap and Douglas & McIntyre are big names. I think there's at least one more, but it escapes me now. (Edit: It's two more publishers: Key Porter and Firefly Books.)

McClelland & Stewart.Macmillan, Broadview, Hurtig, NC Press, a few University Presses. Probably some of these are no longer in business.

Darienne

 

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I do think that blinkered reading is less a matter of intent and more part of the regional publishing agreements (and damn the greed that wants to extend that to content and format of audio-visual media as well...).

On my last move to Japan in 1990, I transfered all my handwritten recipes to my hard-disk, with a back-up floppy. Both drives immediately crashed, and the Japanese manufacturer of my computer didn't want to repair a machine made overseas under license. Since the internet had not really hit Japan, shopping therapy was called for...for a Kiwi missing her extensive collection of NZ, Australian, and UK-published cookbooks, both vintage and new, even the few coffee-table US cookbooks in the Tokyo bookshops were a novelty...Rose-Levy Berenbaum, some book on cookies (American cookies are Martian fare for me!), something called the New Settlement Cookbook which introduced me to things called "Silver Cake" and Ribbon Sandwiches...lots of fun discoveries, different concepts of suitable pastries and "standard" seasonings, etc. Not to mention different measurements, and flour that obviously needed more or less liquid than I was used to.

I don't know that I can identify one NZ writer, though I'm pretty taken with Peter Gordon at present. However, he is just one person at the crest of a wave of "vege-loving fusion fans" from NZ, who have turned their eyes away from Britain and towards other temperate maritime climates around the Mediterranean, and other Asian and Pacific cuisines closer to home. Others in this vein would be Julie le Clerc, Peta Mathias, Fiona Smith...and I want to check out Anne Thorp's Kai Ora on healthy Maori eating, which has a very similar feel to it with more local ingredients.

While Britain's Jane Grigson is well known in the US as an eclectic cook with strong northern roots, other writers of the same generation and similar origins are Dorothy Sleightholme, Peggy Hutchinson (who wrote many books on home wine making), also Mary Norwak and Mary Watts. Their books often have astounding regional gems rubbing shoulders with comfortably sloppy fast but frugal family fare.

NZ writers alternately derided and respected for this "frugal family" approach are Alison Holst (I use her Cooking for Christmas book often - slender but reliable), Allyson Gofton, and "easy-peasy" Jo Seagar, who blushes not to give recipes such as lamb in coffee and cream.

Best places to get an overview of NZ food are Cuisine magazine, NZ House & Garden magazine, TVNZ Kiwi Kitchen (clips can even be viewed outside NZ), and food pages of newspapers such as the New Zealand Herald, Southland Times, Marlborough Express, The Press (Christchurch) seem to be the most active. Mana Magazine has a small food page which is about the only place on the internet to find names such as Rewi Spraggott or Anne Thorp.

...and yes, it HAS been a while since the Australia and New Zealand links were updated!

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