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Definitive Cookbooks by Country

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Hey All,

I'm interested in building a collection of comprehensive cookbooks by country and since you are some of the most knowledgeable people out there on the subject, I was hoping to get your opinions.

For now, we can leave out "America" as a whole. I'm interested in regional American cuisine, but there is already an excellent thread dedicated to this topic.

Here are the countries I'm interested in. Brackets are what I already have.

France: [Gastronomique (really more pan-Europe, but French dominant), Culinaria, Mastering the Art I/II, When French Women Cook.]

Spain: [Culinaria, William Sonoma's "Barcelona"]

Italy: [Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hazan), Culinaria, Silver Spoon]

Germany: Culinaria



Eastern Mediterranean (Israel, Jordan, Syria):

India: [From Mother with Love]




Thailand: [Cracking the Coconut]


China: [some tome of a book, can't remember the name]

Japan: [2 sushi books, Japanese Cooking - The Traditions,Techniques, Ingredients, and Recipes]

Korea: [i'd be very interested in a kimchi book]
Mexico [i have an old Diane Kennedy book, but it's pretty thin]



There are just ones that I'm interested in off the top of my head. Any other recommendations on books regarding countries that I've omitted are also welcome!

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For Greek cooking, Diane Kochilas -- any of hers -- is excellent.

Paula Wolfert is really good on Eastern Mediterranean and Moroccan cooking.

Nawal Nasrallah's Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine, is fascinating and wonderful.

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Laos: Phia Sing's Traditional Recipes.

Thailand: David Thompson's seminal Thai Food.

Russia: Please to the Table, maybe. Wouldn't be surprised if there are better options avaliable.

Spain: Too complex to boil down to one book. Consider the differences between, I don't know, Catalan and Basque food. Catalan Cuisine is a classic. Maybe Basque Table.

Italian: There's Hazan, yes, but I'm rather fond of Locatelli's Made in Italy.

France: Wolfert and/or Robuchon.

Morocco: Wolfert.

Nepal: Taste of Nepal, perhaps.

China: I'd lean towards region-specific books. Dunlop, maybe, for Sichuanese food at least. I suspect if you read any of the Chinese languages you'd find much better books.

Japan: Tsuji's Simple Art, perhaps. Altho' if you want to learn about sushi in-depth I'd lean away from recipe books and more towards 'theory' books such as Edomae Sushi. For something even more specialist, Dashi and Umami is very interesting.

Korea: I have a couple. I'm not satisfied with either. Could not recommend either.
Mexico: Kennedy's Art and Essential.

Argentina & Brazil: South American Table. If you're specifically interested in Argentine-style BBQ, though, you might want to supplement this with Seven Fires. Fires is not an outright replacement for this book, however.

Elsewhere ...

South Africa: I own a few but have enjoyed Ruben Cooks Local the most. Not bad considering it was a blind buy from the bookshop at Oliver Tambo. It highlights South African ingredients in a way very few home cooking books do. If you want something that checks off the big classics, maybe The Illustrated South African Cookbook--slim as it is--is the way to go.

US - New Orleans: I own a few but my favourite is Link. It's Cajun-oriented, tho'.

UK: Henderson. All the way.

Ireland: Andrews.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org


I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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One other Greek cookbook is Foods of Greece by Vilma Chantiles. It's old-fashioned, more what my mother-in-law makes than what trendy young Greeks might be cooking. But for traditional home-style food, the recipes are easy to follow and consistently excellent. Highly recommended.

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Some good choices by Taylor above.

For Spain, in addition to the Andrews' book, I like Penelope Casas. The Foods & Wines of Spain is an excellent starting point.

China - The Key to Chinese Cooking is a nice primer.

Japan - Simple Art is great, as is Hiroko Shimbo's The Japanese Kitchen.

France - Simple French Food by Richard Olney. A classic.

And you can't go wrong by reading a little Waverly Root or Elizabeth David or M. F. K. Fisher for some historical perspective.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Wow, definitive is quite the mantle for any book to wear.

One possible interpretation makes Simple French Food by Richard Olney definitive: For a good cook who generally doesn't need cookbooks, his ideas take on a life of their own. He teaches the spirit of French cooking, that one might miss by studying recipes. His blueprint helped lead to Chez Panisse and a California food scene paralleling Provence.

A different interpretation would a reference that isn't embarrassed to take up the classics, that is likely to shed light on any notable traditional dish that becomes an obsession when encountered while traveling. Perhaps not the same dish, but a representative dish in the same vein, with a likely ancestral relationship. For example, Provencal fish soup is a continuum, with Nice and Marseille marking two poles. I'd accept a book as definitive that leaves the question at that (one makes soup with the fish that's available, after all), and also includes a stockfish recipe. Nevertheless, some books take on the "nine words for snow" problem and go much further.

In this light, the Italian books mentioned so far are fine books, but none definitive. I know strong Italian libraries where they are each deliberately omitted.

Italy Dish by Dish: A Comprehensive Guide to Eating in Italy is small enough to carry on a trip, and rather complete. No recipes, but a paragraph per dish could lead to successful improvisations based on taste memory, if one is familiar with Italian cooking. One can find startling omissions, but not easily.

Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni has been on remainder stacks as long as everyone in my cohort has been cooking, and was our definitive first resource. Very strong regional coverage, mildly interpreted, an abridged translation of the Italian original Il talismano della felicità.

I learned about Le Ricette regionali italiane by Anna Gosetti della Salda in a different eGullet thread, and it is the most definitive Italian cookbook that I own. It is in Italian.

To take up a sample question, what greens belong in pansoti? The wikipedia entry for preboggion is exhaustive, but one might not know this word.

The Italy Dish by Dish entry for pansoti refers to the entry for preboggion:

Preboggion A typical Ligurian mixture of various greens and herbs - mostly wild - that changes according to the season and location. Generally, it consists of the first cabbage of the season or wild chard, borage, cicerbita, anise, dente di leone, etc. The mixture is used in frittatas, soups, and fillings.

Italian Regional Cooking simply proposes "spinach, spinach beet or spring greens".

Le Ricette regionali Italiane specifies preboggion, and refers to the recipe for riso col preboggion for a description:

Nota: soltanto nei mercati di Genova a localita limitrofe si puo trovare il "preboggion", che e un mazzo di erbe commestibili nate spontaneamente; queste erbe variano a seconda della stagione. Tra esse vi e un tipo di verza primaticcia chiamatta "gaggia", la borrana o borragine, le erbette (gee), la bieta ed il radicchio selvatici; inoltre, dal gusto e profumo assai marcato, il cerfoglio, la "pimpinella", la cicerbita e la talegua (detta anche "dente di cane").

One can find a surprising profusion of related herbs at the Ferry Building farmers market in San Francisco, making this last entry most useful.

Some of the previously recommended Italian books describe a version of preboggion, if not by name. My next question would be how to make bigoli noodles using a Venetian bigolaro, and what sauces to put on top? Another "nine words for snow" problem.

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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It's interesting that many of the reported definitive works on a country are written by foreigners.

It really depends what you are looking for. Broadbrush or in-depth, beginner or advanced?

Most of these are not duplicates of ones mentioned earlier

France: Alain Ducasse's "Grand Livre de Cuisine," "The Complete Bocuse," or "The Complete Robuchon"

Spain: Joan Roca "Roots, Essential Catalan Cuisine" Colman Andrews "Catalan Cuisine" Some would say

Italy: La Cucina Italiana "The Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking," "La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy," or Hazan "The Classic Italian Cookbook"

Germany: Dr Oetker "German Cooking Today"

Greece: Vefa's Kitchen

Russia: Darra Goldstein "A Taste of Russia"

Morocco: Paula Wolfert "Complete Moroccan Cookbook"
Eastern Mediterranean (Israel, Jordan, Syria): Claudia Roden, "New Book of Middle Eastern Food"

India: Although a number have reviewed it less than positively, it aims to be comprehensive : Pushpesh Pant "India The Cookbook"

Nepal: Jyoti Pathak "Taste of Nepal"

Cambodia: Ghilie Basan "Food and Cooking of Cambodia"

Laos: Phaya Sing "Traditional Recipes of Laos"

Thailand: David Thompson "Thai Food"

Vietnam: Less definitive but good: Andrea Nguyen "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen," Luke Nguyen "My Vietnam: Stories and Recipes"

China: Pei-Mei's Chinese Cookbook (volumes 1, 2, and 3); Fuschia Dunlop: "Sichuan Cookery" and Hunanese ("Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook")

Japan: Tsuji "Japanese Cooking A Simple Art"

Korea: Chang Sun-Young "A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes"
Mexico: Diana Kennedy "The Essential Cuisines of Mexico"

Argentina: Seven Fires, mentioned above is excellent (see Latin America)

Brazil: (see Latin America)

Latin America: Marical E. Presilla "Gran Cocina Latina"

South East Asia: Rosemary Brissenden "Southeast Asian Food"

Indonesia: Sri Owen "Indonesian Food"

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I'd second Richard Olney on Simple French Food. Also, his French Menu Cookbook. Both of them marvels. His Lemon Garlic Chicken has to be one of the best things I've ever made and he is OBSESSIVE about detail and passionate about food. A learning experience all around.

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Spain: Joan Roca "Roots, Essential Catalan Cuisine" Colman Andrews "Catalan Cuisine"

Both great Catalan books. Coleman Andrews started it all for many of us.

On a recent trip there, I looked everywhere for cookbooks. The definitive Catalan cookbook is tiny, packed with recipes and thinking:

El petit llibre de la cuina catalana by Per Sans.

Hard to find online, but https://www.abebooks.co.uk/ also has stock.

I was drawn to it by the many salt cod, and fideuá recipes. It's in Catalan. This is less of a hindrance than one might expect, if one speaks a few romance languages badly. They all run together, with Catalan closer to the Latin origins, and one can browse by simply not trying too hard, then translate recipes as needed using http://translate.google.com/ .

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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