Cookbooks That Will Transport You!

So far, 2024 has been a banner year for cookbooks, and one happy trend is the growing number of titles that include a good amount of armchair travel - though I must note, some destinations are quite different than others. From Taiwan to the south of France to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to Ukraine, home cooks can pick a destination and not only learn about the cuisine of a country or region, but also get to immerse themselves in its geography, culture, and history. Find following some top picks from the first half of the year, and know that there are more to come!

You may start packing your bags for a trip to Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur after reading just the first ten pages of Rebekah Peppler's latest cookbook, Le Sud. Is it the incredible photos of food and beaches and gardens by Joann Pai, or Peppler's writing and recipes, or both? One thing for sure, readers will fall hard for her easy to create picnic snacks, soups and braises, and only slightly harder to make Tarte Tropézienne, partly made famous by actress Brigitte Bardot, who "discovered" it while filming And God Made Women in 1956 in San-Tropez.

A-Gong's Table by George Lee features fantastic photographs by Laurent Hsia of food, people and places, and brings readers right to the bustling streets of Taiwan. When Lee was young, his family adopted, as semi-Buddhists, a no-meat diet, and he has over the years adapted many of his grandfather A-Gong's favorite recipes to be vegan. While some ingredients may be tricky to source, once your Taiwanese pantry staples are in place, the recipes are simple and need no special skills to be gracefully prepared and served.

Can I make a (hopeful) prediction? Pintxos bars all over Denver, thanks to The Book of Pintxos: Discover the Legendary Small Bites of Basque Country by Marti Buckley. I was a twenty-something (1985) in Chicago when the spectacularly unique Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! opened, and it solidified my love for a meal of appetizers - and now it has pintxos in its byline! This book features 100 recipes, along with stunning photography, histories, and profiles of bars and restaurants in the Basque Country.

How about an immersive trip to China, focused on the most important meal of the day? You'll find it in Zao Fan: Breakfast of China. In Michael Zee’s new book, he combines his love of breakfast with his love of China and photography, offering 100 recipes, and includes portraits of the cooks he met running breakfast shops and stalls across the country. It captures the vast range of Chinese breakfast in chapters devoted to noodles, breads and doughs, rice and other grains, Xibonese breakfast, soy and tofu, eggs and some meat, dumplings, morning tea, soups, sauces and pickles.

Newfoundlander (yes, that province in Canada) Karen E. Fisher collaborated with more than 2,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan to create the Zaatari cookbook, filled with stories of art, culture and food. Food is the foundation of the book, interwoven with art, poetry and stories of all aspects of life in Zaatari Camp: a trip to the beauty salon, wedding customs, how residents celebrate Ramadan, the world’s first refugee-run library system, Zaatari Camp Libraries, and TIGER (These Inspiring Girls Enjoy Reading). It is a joyous celebration of surviving and thriving as a refugee, and preserving one's culinary heritage.

We're having a hot summer in Denver, but I still crave a tropical vacation after reading Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking: 125 Recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands. And these are not your typical destination islands - the cuisines of Guam, Madagascar, and Vanuatu, among others, are explored. Writer, documentary producer, and author Von Diaz travels across oceans and nations to uplift the shared ancestral cooking techniques of these islands in more than 125 recipes, including intimate profiles of the historical context of each technique, stories from islanders, and step-by-step guides for recreating them at home.

Last up, Authentic Ukrainian Kitchen. Restaurateur, cookbook author, food activist,  Yevhen Klopotenko wants to bring real Ukrainian cooking back home. Beginning with an enlightening discussion of pantry staples, he immerses cooks in the regional cuisine of Ukraine through more than 100 recipes, ranging from iconic treats such as pyrizhky (little stuffed pies) and tsvikli (beet and horseradish salad) to rybna yushka (traditional fish soup). One reviewer called it "an essential piece of Ukrainian cultural heritage."

Keep an eye on this space for a round-up in the fall of new and gift-worthy cookbooks for all the home cooks and aspiring chefs on your life!

Written by Dodie on