The Best Cookbooks for Your Friends Who Are Obsessed with Traveling

published Dec 16, 2019
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The most satisfying cookbooks don’t just have lists of ingredients or sets of directions, but actually transport the reader into someone else’s kitchen and open up new experiences. This can involve something as simple as trying a new ingredient or as abstract as traveling halfway around the world to taste a different culture and perspective. And in this past year, we saw some fascinating new reads for home cooks with bold appetites for both travel and food. From hand-shaping tortellini and tortillas to understanding the politics of the Palestinian kitchen and traversing the Black Sea, here are the best new cookbooks for anyone who’s obsessed with traveling the globe.

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1. American Sfoglino by Evan Funke

Evan Funke is the chef of Felix Trattoria in Venice, California, and he originally trained in Bologna. Sfoglia means a sheet of fresh pasta, and a sfoglino or pasta maker is its master. This book will help the ambitious home cook learn how to roll and whip pasta like an Italian nonna — completely by hand, no machinery required (and make a mean Bolognese!). 

Buy: American Sfoglino, $35

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2. The Gaijin Cookbook by Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying

You might recognize Ivan Orkin from Chef’s Table — that Jewish guy from Long Island who’s really, really into ramen. Gaijin means outsider, and this curious cookbook reflects his lifelong obsession with Japanese culture and cuisine, dividing years between Tokyo and New York. Recipes include kid-friendly onigiri, egg salad sandwiches, bagels with shiso gravlax, and Coney Island tofu.  

Buy: The Gaijin Cookbook, $30

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3. Sababa by Adeena Sussman 

Adeena Sussman is a longtime cookbook co-author (she helped out Chrissy Teigen, no big deal). She moved to Tel Aviv in 2015, and this is her first big solo project from her new home. Sababa literally means “everything is awesome,” and through her descriptions of the markets, ingredients, dishes, and traditions, Sussman captures the sunny warmth and hospitality of Israeli cooking. 

Buy: Sababa, $35

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4. The Food of Sichuan by Fuchsia Dunlop 

A British expat who lived for years in Chengdu, Fuchsia Dunlop is a leading expert on Sichuan food culture, responsible for introducing countless American and English readers to a more nuanced understanding of Chinese regional cuisines. The Land of Plenty was her first cookbook nearly 20 years ago, and this fully updated and revised edition folds in 60 new recipes. Of course, there’s the iconic mapo tofu, but also dumplings, noodles, whole fish, fiery chiles, and cool pickles. 
Buy: The Food of Sichuan, $40

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5. Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan 

There’s a growing interest in Palestinian food at the moment, as many people are realizing that “Middle Eastern” is a vast generalization with politics in the kitchen. In contrast to Ottolenghi in London or the Zahav guys in Philly, the Israeli men who have been leading the conversation, Yasmin Khan is one of several female writers speaking up on behalf of Palestinian voices and traditions. Part recipe book and part travelogue, she journeys through the territories, sharing beautiful dishes and heart-wrenching stories. 

Buy: Zaitoun, $30

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6. My Mexico City Kitchen by Gabriela Cámara with Malena Watrous 

Gabriela Cámara might be an internationally recognized chef with restaurants in Mexico City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; a new show on Netflix; and a gig consulting the president of Mexico, but her long-awaited cookbook reveals she’s kind of a hippie who loves slapping masa. Just like her restaurants, the book feels like a beach party for friends and family, filled with fresh fish, seasonal vegetables, pink beans, and warm tortillas. 

Buy: My Mexico City Kitchen, $35

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7. Black Sea by Caroline Eden 

Almost more of a travel book interspersed with recipes, Caroline Eden traverses three cities surrounding the Black Sea, venturing from Odessa in Ukraine to Istanbul and Trabzon in Turkey. A roundabout of history, geography, stories, and recipes, it’s a wild ride and a whole new perspective on a surprisingly rich culinary crossroads. 

Buy: Black Sea, $35

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8. Alpine Cooking by Meredith Erickson 

Can you hear the raclette calling? Meredith Erickson treks to the mountaintops and celebrates the cooking of the Alps, ranging down from Italy and Austria into Switzerland and France. Erickson is a longtime co-author of chef books, from Le Pigeon in Portland to Claridge’s hotel in London, so she’s got the chops, but she also hosts tours in the Alps, which sounds like the most fun winter break ever. It’s time for your loved one to hang up her snow boots and warm up with goulash and ragù, schnitzel and fondue.

Buy: Alpine Cooking, $50

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