Cookbooks (like their literary counterparts) tell a story; years of experience and wisdom are offered as the author guides readers through unusual pairings, a surprising use of a fresh herb, a favorite wine and more. Recipes stand as guidelines, meant to be experimented with and customized to one's preference, and ultimately, cookbooks remind us that food is an experience; from gathering the ingredients to preparing, making a mess and sharing a meal with loved ones. Here is a selection of recently published and upcoming cookbooks that spotlight cuisine from around the world, and promise to inspire you to pick up a frying pan tonight.
Thai food is perhaps one of the easiest suggestions to make when determining what to eat; the intense flavors are crowd-pleasers, yet many balk at the idea of preparing it at home. Food writer and photographer Jean-Pierre Gabriel spent three years traveling all over Thailand; visiting outdoor markets, homes and restaurants and collecting local recipes that highlight the diversity and richness of the country's heritage cuisine. Sponsored by the Royal Thai Government, "Thailand" is filled with more than 500 easy-to-follow recipes and color photographs—and as long as you own a steamer and wok, you can recreate Gabriel's journey at home. The section on curries is a highlight; featuring recipes for authentic Green Chicken Curry and more daring endeavors like roasted Duck Curry with Lychee or a variation that adds silkworm pupae. The last chapter includes a selection of recipes by guest chefs from all over the world. Shipping in May 2014, pre-order the book from Phaidon for $50.
Le Livre Blanc
In the male-dominated arena of gastronomy, Anne-Sophie Pic is a model for change. Following in the footsteps of her genes, Pic earned three Michelin stars (becoming the fourth female chef in history to do so, and the only woman in France) for her family's restaurant La Maison Pic in Valence. With no formal culinary training, the seafood specialist trusts her palate and dedicates herself to constant experimentation to create unexpected pairings like oyster/licorice, beetroot/coffee and green tea butter. The lightness and delicacy that Pic strives for in her dishes is depicted throughout "Le Livre Blanc" in striking photographs with stark, white backgrounds—with the recipes gathered in the back. Referring to the chef's apron but also a blank page, where creativity beckons, white is the consistent theme throughout Pic's book. While many won't have ingredients like fresh crayfish, turbot, Voatsiperifery pepper, kombu or tonka bean in stock, Pic's complex recipes offer an elevated appreciation for haute cuisine. Published in English by Jacqui Small, "Le Livre Blanc" is available on Amazon for $40.
Recipes for a Good Time
Written by Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate (but dedicated to their third business partner, Joe Valore), "Recipes for a Good Time" is a collection of favorite dishes from their acclaimed Sydney, Australia restaurants; Porteño and Bodega. Styled in a similar way to the chefs themselves, the book is retro-tinged and altogether playful (there's even a style section), but the Argentinian-inspired recipes are serious business. With tips for smoking meat and fish, grilling on charcoal and making your own chorizo, feta and dough—the focus is on really doing it yourself and, of course, having a good time. Highlights include Porteño's famous brussels sprouts (with the helpful tip: "just don't burn your house down") and their take on the Aussie classic, pavlova. And, for condiments enthusiasts, there's an entire section dedicated to pickles and sauces. Published by Murdoch Books, "Recipes For a Good Time" is available for $60.
Eating With the Chefs
Swedish photographer Per-Anders Jörgensen, who along with his wife runs the indie gastronomic quarterly "Fool Magazine," visited 18 much-loved restaurants all over the world (from Noma, Roberta's, Chez Panisse, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, wd-50 and The French Laundry to even the aforementioned Maison Pic) not to eat a stunning meal, but to photograph the chefs and staffers eating theirs. With his camera, Jörgensen captures the staff preparing and eating their "family meal" before or after work. Readers are offered a look behind closed restaurant doors; intimate scenes of employees sharing a meal that reflect each restaurant's unique culture. These meals can be an opportunity to be experiment or to wordlessly show appreciation and devotion, in the case of Il Canto's chef Paolo Lopriore, who insists on cooking it himself. A bonus is the multiple recipes from each restaurant; rather than complicated menu highlights there are easy-to-follow staff favorites. At the bottom of each recipe is a useful chart that informs the measurements for cooking for two, six, 20 or even 50 people. Part documentary, part recipe book, "Eating With the Chefs" publishes 28 April 2014; get a copy from Phaidon for $60.
Ample Hills Creamery
Started by public school teacher Jackie Cuscuna and sci-fi writer Brian Smith, the beloved Ample Hills Creamery makes homemade-style ice cream using fresh, whole ingredients and invents adventurous, bold flavors like Salted Crack Caramel and I Want To Marry This (maple and bacon bark) that have thrown Prospect Heights, Brooklyn into a tizzy. Now these Holy Grail flavors can be made at home with their new eponymous cookbook. It's a narrative filled with photographs, employee intros, illustrations by fellow employee Lauren Kaelin, stories, games and more, and is intended to include kids in the reading and cooking process. The book includes lots of fun for the adults too, with recipes for Stout and Pretzels (blending Guinness beer with dark chocolate), The Dude (named after The Big Lebowski character and inspired by his go-to White Russian) and more in the "Tipsy" section. The chapters are organized by mood, ranging from "Blissful" to "Heartbroken"—when ice cream is your only friend. "Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn's Favorite Ice Cream Shop" will be available from Abrams Books for $25 on 15 April 2014.
Photos by Nara Shin