The latest Phaidon exploration of cooking and culture is The Jewish Cookbook (Phaidon, $49.95), by Leah Koenig, author of several highly praised books, including Modern Jewish Cooking. Her latest work has all of the Jewish recipes you’d expect: gefilte fish, latkes, dumplings, and kugels, as well as many dishes influenced by a wide range of international tastes, reflecting the diverse population of contemporary Jewry. This diasporic quality comes through in recipes from Morocco to Mexico, as well as one for Groundnut Stew, from the Abayudaya, a small Jewish community in Eastern Uganda. The sheer volume of recipes Koenig has gathered makes this a stand-out collection. In addition, the dishes are clearly labeled for readers who want specifically vegetarian, vegan, dairy, or gluten free foods, making this a handy and reliable reference.
Fuchsia Dunlop’s first cookbook, Land of Plenty, was not only a home cook’s guide to Sichuanese cooking, but the English-speaking world’s first comprehensive introduction to the delights of China’s “culinary capital.” Nearly two decades later, as dishes such as hot pot, Mapo tofu, and Dandan noodles have expanded western awareness of Sichuan food, Dunlop returns on a chariot of fiery peppercorns with The Food of Sichuan (W.W. Norton, $40). With new essays, photos, and recipes added to reflect recent trends in the province, Dunlop once more shows the incredible range of dishes and techniques that embody Sichuan cuisine, and does so with remarkable warmth and passion. Especially in an abundant age of online grocery shopping where you can have Shaoxing wine and chile bean paste delivered to your door, the recipes will cater to novices and practiced cooks alike, as Dunlop guides you through menus for all occasions—from banquet foods such as Bowl-Steamed Pork Belly, to a three-ingredient fresh noodle recipe that is tiny-apartment-kitchen-approved. This latest from the doyenne of homemade Sichuanese food will have you trading in that takeout menu for a (well-seasoned) wok of your own.
The foodways of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are a satisfying amalgam of Persian and Turkish influence with original marks of independent mountain-top cultures, in the archaeological homeland of vine. Perhaps you've heard of kachapuri, Georgia's famous calorie-bomb of bread and cheese? The cuisine in full is a whole lot healthier; a Paleo-ish mix of herbs by the fistful, ground nuts, grilled meats, dried fruits, and the most exciting vegetable preparations I know. Hercules is a London-based chef with Armenian and Ukrainian roots. Her in situ photographs, nostalgia, and enigmatic interpretations of classics make for an ideal introduction for Western kitchens.