The Rest of the World, One Plate at a Time
June 28, 2009 11:00 PM   Subscribe

Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday is my go-to cookbook. Can anyone recommend any other cookbook authors that can teach me about other traditional world cuisines? Who's the Rick Bayless of Indian food? The Asian Rick Bayless? Who's the Mediterranean's answer to Rick Bayless?

Let me explain what I admire about Bayless. First of all, he ain't a famous TV chef slumming in ethnic food. Bayless has made Mexican food his life's work. That means that I trust the authenticity and integrity of his recipes. He does an excellent job explaining how they fit into the culture of Mexico, and his books provide a foundation for understanding the system of Mexican cuisine.

At the same time, he makes these recipes accessible to ordinary Americans. These are simple recipes that don't use too many exotic ingredients and don't take all day to make. They're mostly "week night" recipes.

I'm looking for similar cookbooks about other parts of the world.
posted by chrchr to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
My go to book for Indian is by Madhur Jaffery, specifically Madhury Jaffery Indian Cooking (this is an update of what is probably her most famous book). Not as much in the way of cuisine as a view into culture as Bayless, but some.
posted by fief at 11:15 PM on June 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

I 2nd the Madhur Jaffery recommendation, also Paula Wolfert for Mediterranean, although I tend to read her cookbook more than cook from it.
posted by snowymorninblues at 11:32 PM on June 28, 2009 is the everyday-food recipe site of choice for Japanese food. SO many good recipes.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:59 PM on June 28, 2009

I like the Modern Art of Chinese Cooking.
posted by rdr at 11:59 PM on June 28, 2009

Anjum Anand's Indian Every Day was my introduction to cooking Indian food: I've found it excellent. You could also try her newer book Anjum's New Indian.
posted by misteraitch at 2:12 AM on June 29, 2009

I'd like to recommend Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, even though it hits the type of Italian that we're used to getting in American restaurants, as opposed to the authentic stuff. It's been a great entry point for me to expand my knowledge of the basics.
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:55 AM on June 29, 2009

You might want to check out this AskMe thread.
posted by needled at 4:17 AM on June 29, 2009

N-thing Madhur Jaffrey's various cookbooks on Indian food, which taught me how to cook it, as well as her great book on Asian vegetarian cooking in general, World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.
posted by aught at 6:16 AM on June 29, 2009

Martin Yan's show can be a little over the top, but his recipes are generally very good, authentic and oriented towards quick prep.
posted by electroboy at 6:49 AM on June 29, 2009

For real Italian, this book by Marcella Hazan is exactly what you're looking for. Everyone who cooks should own it.
posted by neroli at 7:03 AM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

And the Middle Eastern Rick Bayless is Claudia Roden.
posted by neroli at 7:05 AM on June 29, 2009

Madhur Jaffrey is, I've heard, a pretty solid go-to for Indian food. She's got a wide variety of cookbooks suitable for different levels, and she brings wider context without being overly academic or niche-specific. The only book I have is this one, but that's mainly because I live alone (and, uh, never actually cook :P)

I've really enjoyed Hot Sour Salty Sweet for Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisine. Some of the ingredients can get a little hard to find, but especially if you're near any sort of Asian market you should be able to do them pretty well. This book is almost more of a travelogue than a cookbook -- lots of photos and descriptions of the cultures. The recipes are great, though -- quite varied, and some have become staples for me. This couple has some other well-received books out.
posted by Madamina at 7:08 AM on June 29, 2009

Memories of Philippine Kitchens for Filipino food

Also, the Culinaria series is excellent.
posted by AceRock at 7:22 AM on June 29, 2009

I dunno nothin' about Rick Bayless, but Diana Kennedy has some excellent, excellent books on Mexican cooking.
posted by avianism at 8:21 AM on June 29, 2009

The Silver Spoon is the bible of Italian food.
posted by mkultra at 11:18 AM on June 29, 2009

Someone mentioned an AskMe I posted, which has a lot of good recommendations. That thread pointed me to Fuschia Dunlop's Chinese cookbooks, which I wholeheartedly recommend as a foodie who's traveled around China. They're very authentic if you can find the right ingredients. She's done two books so far:

Land of Plenty (Sichuanese cooking)

Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (Hunanese cooking, "revolutionary" because Mao Zedong and Lei Feng are from Hunan)

Both are excellent, although Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook is probably more accessible in terms of ingredients and it has more photos too.
posted by pravit at 12:05 PM on June 29, 2009

I LOVE Rick Bayless' restaurants and have been relying on his excellent cookbooks since I moved away from Chicago five years ago.

That said, I'm seconding neroli that for Italian, Marcella Hazan is the way to go. From Wiki:

Marcella Hazan, maiden name Marcella Polini, (born 1924) is an Italian cookery writer who writes in English. Her cookbooks are credited with introducing the public in the United States and Britain to the techniques of traditional Italian cooking. She is widely considered by chefs and fellow food writers to be one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine.

"Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" is fantastic. The recipes offer simple, delicious ways to use fresh ingredients, and Hazan tells little stories about the origins of Italian food traditions and culture before each recipe. Molto bene!
posted by non sum qualis eram at 4:38 PM on June 29, 2009

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