What are THE great books on non-French cuisine?
August 9, 2014 11:25 AM   Subscribe

I know what some of the must-read books on French cuisine are (Escoffier, etc) - what are some examples of the greatest, most classic cookbooks/books about cooking for other cuisines, both European and non-European?

I love cooking, and I like to think I'm pretty good at it. I'm entirely self- and parent- taught, though, and most of my experience is with either Eastern European or Middle Eastern cooking. I'd like to broaden my horizons, and learn a slightly more classical approach to cooking. I'd like to work through some of the great classic cookbooks, and while I already know where to look for the great French books (I figure I can start with Escoffier and work from there), I'd rather not limit myself to French cuisine. What are some of the great, foundational classic cookbooks for other cuisines? I'm limited to English, Japanese, or Spanish-language only, unless it has good photos or can be puzzled through with Google Translate.
posted by Itaxpica to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard "The silver spoon" is the Italian cookbook, the Italian equivalent to some of the standard French cookbooks.
posted by TheAdamist at 11:31 AM on August 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Lord Krishna's Cuisine is an encyclopedic resource for Indian vegetarian cooking.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

As the daughter of immigrants who never learned to cook, I'm about to buy Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice on Chinese home cooking.
posted by serelliya at 11:43 AM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Art of Simple Food - Alice Waters. American cuisine.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:50 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art is the classic on Japanese cuisine. Food of Life is very well known on Persian cooking.
posted by Blitz at 11:55 AM on August 9, 2014

Madhur Jaffrey on Indian food but I'm not sure which one to recommend (I'm sure someone will be able to though!).
posted by humph at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

English Bread and Yeast Cookery - Elizabeth David
The Book of Jewish Food - Claudia Roden
Thai Food - David Thompson

Tangentially, I also would reccomend picking up On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, if you don't yet have it. It's not a "working through recipes" book, but it has immense value in gaining a deep understanding of ingredients and techniques on a universal level.

On preview - Madhur Jaffrey's Eastern Vegetarian Cooking is probably her most tome-like. Her Indian Cookery is a very fine cookbook but maybe not as comprehensive as you're looking for.
posted by protorp at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not really limited to one cuisine, but Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is pretty much a classic.
posted by General Malaise at 12:05 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perhaps not to be mentioned in the same sentence as Escoffier (he'd surely agree) but Alton Brown's cookbook is certainly excellent in terms of a pure look at the WHY of cooking. Lessons learned are so specific to the foundation of cooking, clever gadgetry aside. In terms or learning improving or correcting technique you'd be pressed to find a better one...
posted by chasles at 12:22 PM on August 9, 2014

Feel I should add in pre-defense of Mr brown that his techniques have led our house to making our own breads, sauces, croutons etc etc. I really like his approach to NOT using a store bought thing when home bought is easy and tasty. Taught me how to make my own liquid smoke for god's sake...
posted by chasles at 12:24 PM on August 9, 2014

I worship the late Marcella Hazan. The Classic Italian Cookbook is my Old Testament, More Classic Italian Cooking is my New Testament, and Marcella's Italian Kitchen is the Apocrypha.

For Jewish cooking, I recommend (less fervently, but strongly nonetheless) Claudia Rosen's The Book of Jewish Food, and Gloria Greene's Jewish Holiday Cookbook.
posted by underthehat at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Claudia Roden's books on Middle Eastern food are also splendid. I've also been looking at Yotam Ottolenghi's recent Jerusalem, but not picked up a copy yet. Looks amazing.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2014

Goerge Lang's The Cuisine of Hungary is regarded as the authoritative text on making Real Hungarian Food; Susan Derecskey's The Hungarian Cookbook is considered a second-best for shorter cooking times and more American-friendly ingredients.
posted by jackbishop at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that Fuchsia Dunlop is authoritative on Chinese cuisine. And there's nothing wrong with Every Grain of Rice, but I think that Land of Plenty might be closer to what you're looking for. It's an attempt to comprehensively cover Sichuanese (Szechwan) cuisine, and to explain the principles behind it, and Chinese cooking in general. Not well illustrated, but a great cookbook if you want something to read cover-to-cover.

Dunlop is a strong writer with a passion for authenticity, and reading Land of Plenty was the closest thing to a transcendent experience I've had with a cookbook.
posted by serathen at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

See also: previously, previously, and previously.
posted by neroli at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2014

You want Paula Wolfert for Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine.
posted by trip and a half at 2:28 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

And of course Diana Kennedy for Mexican.
posted by trip and a half at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Naomi Duguid wrote an excellent Burmese cookbook.
posted by elisse at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2014

Claudia Roden's The Food of Spain is very thourough and well done. I have Paula Wolfert's book on Morocco and it is excellent.
posted by Lycaste at 4:06 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Colman Andrews "Catalan Cuisine"
posted by JPD at 5:05 PM on August 9, 2014

If you just read English Fred Plotniks regional Italian books fit.

Folse. " Cajun and creole cuisine"

Dunlop also has a Hunanese book. EGOR is a great book but it's almost every explicitly not this.

Andrews also has an Irish book.
posted by JPD at 5:10 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ken Hom for Chinese cookery. Fuschia Dunlop is good but many of her books use quite obscure ingredients (there is one which deliberately doesn't - I think it's A Grain Of Rice). Ken Hom is one of the original greats!
posted by ontheradio at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2014

Even some Italians refer to Elisabeth David's Italian Food, and Neset Eren's The Art of Turkish Cooking is also a classic.
posted by mumimor at 6:52 AM on August 13, 2014

I know this question is a few months old but I have to add an amazing Thai cookbook called Everyday Thai Cooking: Quick and Easy Family Style Recipes by Katie Chin. Simply the best Thai cookbook I've stumbled across.
posted by atinna at 12:04 PM on October 2, 2014

I just came across the Wikipedia entry for the Tofu Hyakuchin 豆腐百珍, a Japanese book published in 1782. The Japanese entry isn't very long so it may not be the same sort of thing as Escoffier is in the 21st century.
posted by XMLicious at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2014

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