When I wrote my first ever cookbook (and a big “thank you” to all of you who bought it) I mentioned some of the cookbooks that had influenced me. Ever since then, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what food books I am reading now. I am more than happy to oblige! Being a food nerd and a bookworm, I love it when my two passions intersect. Here are some of the delicious reads that I’ve been getting into these days.
Company, by Amy Thielen
As you may know, I love to host a dinner party. This being the case, I am always on the hunt for books that will help me up my dinner party game. A really good one came out this year: Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others, by Amy Thielen. Thielen, author of The New Midwestern Table, is a Minnesota-based cook and writer who knows that, above all, dinner parties are supposed to be fun. It’s easy to forget that when I’m trying to whip up a meal for 20 of my closest friends, but this book – full of fun, interesting recipes – keeps me grounded.
Made in Taiwan, by Clarissa Wei
Taiwanese food is a cuisine that I have been wanting to learn more about. That’s why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Clarissa Wei’s Made in Taiwan: Recipes and Stories from the Island Nation. The book was released this year, to much acclaim. Part cookbook, part culinary history, part cultural snapshot, this is one of the most comprehensive chronicles of Taiwanese cuisine I’ve ever encountered. The research and photography for the book were done entirely in Taiwan, by a Taiwanese team. This is a true love letter to that beautiful island—one that will teach you how to make the perfect soup dumplings.
Food Journeys of a Lifetime, 2nd Edition
This beautiful National Geographic coffee table book has obvious appeal to me, the consummate food traveler. The second edition features 60 new must-taste destinations for globetrotting foodies. I turn to this informative, beautifully photographed book when I am plotting my next travel destinations, or when I want to relive some of my past trips.
The Rice Book, Sri Owen
Rice is the foundational ingredient for many of the world’s cuisines, and the common thread in many of my favorite dishes. That’s why I was thrilled to get my hands on The Rice Book, by Sri Owen. Equal parts historical work and cookbook, this masterpiece will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about rice. And it features recipes for everything from biryanis to paellas. While the book was first published 30 years ago, it was recently reprinted with an updated forward. All the more reason to pick it up.
National Dish, by Anya von Bremzen
Often, I write about national dishes: the dishes that help define a country’s identity. I find that intersection of food and culture so fascinating. Well, National Dish: Around the World in Search of Food, History, and the Meaning of Home, by three-time James Beard Award-winning author Anya von Bremzen is devoted to that exact topic! Here, von Bremzen explores how certain foods achieved “national dish” status and what that means for the cultures they have come to define. This is definitely recommended for anyone looking to take a deep dive into food.
That’s my top five for this year, but I would love to hear what you all have been reading. It just so happens that I am between books right now and in need of a good recommendation…
If you enjoyed this recipe or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other dishes I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.