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.
What happens when a philosopher and an ornithologist collaborate? Philippe J. Dubois and Elise Rousseau use the lens of bird behavior to present a deep examination of what it means to be human. Newly translated from the French by Jennifer Higgins, A Short Philosophy of Birds (Dey Street, $19.99) touches on equality, family, love, beauty, freedom, power, pleasure, otherness, death, and more. Some philosophical questions must be asked anew by each generation and some questions are of emerging importance. To the question of freedom, the authors point to hens and doves who, when allowed complete freedom, stay near their coops. To the question of gender equality in parenting—a matter seldom considered by many generations of male philosophers—Dubois and Rousseau point to the sandpiper, who lays two separate clutches of eggs, one for her to raise, and one to be raised by her mate, creating two independent "households." This unique, trim volume is an antidote to the unexamined life and a balm for the nature lover or those fed up with human behavior.