With COVID-19 travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders in place around the globe, experiencing the sights and sounds the world has to offer feels painfully far away. Wanderlusters may be home wondering how they can scratch their travel itch without literally exploring. Contrary to popular thought, it is possible to experience a new culture without ever leaving home. The best way to do so? Cooking. Travelers and experts across the board often agree that the best way to experience a new place is through its cuisine. This is precisely why we chose the top international cookbooks, so you can create and experience cuisine from the streets of Bangkok, the cafes of Paris or the towns of the Mediterranean in your own kitchen. So crack open one of these 15 cookbooks and let it take you far away.
“Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking” by Maangchi
Emily Kim, also known in popular food culture as Maangchi, started her professional culinary journey on a whim when she decided to post a video of herself cooking a Korean meal online. One video led to another and soon she developed a successful YouTube channel, website, two cookbooks and the distinction of being called the “Korean Julia Child” by the New York Times. “Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking,” her first cookbook, is perfect for beginners who want to dive head first into Korean cuisine, showcasing how-tos on popular dishes such as bulgogi, bibimap and kimchi, as well as more unique drinks and dishes, such as pear punch, seaweed salad and braised lotus root. Her upbringing in South Korea brings authenticity to her dishes as well as a passion to make sure that her American audiences are getting the real deal. And rest assured with 320 pages of instruction, you will be fluent in Korean cooking in no time. You can purchase the cookbook for $32 or less online.
“Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes From the Thai Home Kitchen” by Leela Punyaratabandhu
Thai food, with its enticing blend of sweet, savory and spicy flavor profiles, may be an intimidating pursuit to the novice home cook. Though with determination and the help of “Simple Thai Food,” you’ll be well on your way to making the perfect pad thai. The author, Leela Punyaratabandhu, grew up in Bangkok and shared her recipes and insights on her blog SheSimmers.com before developing her cookbook. “Simple Thai Food” not only offers 100 recipes, including staples such as green papaya salad, spring rolls and tom yam soup, but it also breaks down the fundamentals of Thai cooking and cuisine, simplifying the process for an audience that did not grow up in a Thai kitchen. You can buy this cookbook for $24.99 or less online.
“Made in India: Recipes From an Indian Family Kitchen” by Meera Sodha
Indian home cooking is very different from the food you might find in Indian restaurants in western countries. Meera Sodha wanted to capture the home cooking she grewup with in her mother’s kitchen, creating recipes that span three generations of her family. The book runs the gamut of Indian cuisine, from curries to street food classics like samosas to delectable snacks and desserts. The more than 300-page cookbook also features guides on how to properly eat with your hands, what kitchen equipment you’ll need and what wine pairings compliment Indian food. You can get this cookbook for $35 or less online.
“Mexico: The Cookbook” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cookbook more comprehensive than Margarita Carrillo Arronte’s “Mexico: The Cookbook.” The cookbook’s 600-plus recipes are an encyclopedia for Mexican cuisine, catering to those who want to make something beyond what’s found at Mexican restaurants. With this book, you can discover regional dishes, learn how to make street food staples and try your hand in cooking traditional Mexican desserts and drinks, including pastel tres leches (three milk cake). Standout recipes you should try cooking include Acapulco-style ceviche, pork ribs with guava and smoked chili sauce, and Hidalgo-style barbacoa de pollo (barbecue chicken) to name a few. You can purchase this cookbook for $49.95 or less online.
“Japanese Soul Cooking” by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
Right now more than ever, we need comfort food. And what better way to treat yourself than to whip up something from “Japanese Soul Cooking,” a cookbook that specifically chronicles Japanese comfort food and how to make it. In here you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to make mouthwatering udon, ramen, tempura, gyoza (a dumpling dish) and more. You’ll also find recipes that may not be as familiar to the American palate, including wafu pasta (spaghetti mixed with Japenese ingredients), Japanese-style curry and okonomiyaki (a type of savory pancake). An added bonus of this cookbook is the detailed commentary of each dish as well as photographs of Japanese people living and cooking, transporting readers directly to the tables of Japan. By the time you get through the more than 200-page book, you’ll feel as if you just finished strolling the streets of Tokyo. You can find this cookbook for $27.50 or less online.
“The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen
Those looking for more healthy international recipes will no doubt take to “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook.” Developed by America’s Test Kitchen, a long-running cooking program on PBS, the book’s recipes all comply with the popular Mediterranean Diet. But just because it’s a book aimed for dieters doesn’t mean it isn’t downright delicious. Here, you’ll find recipes from all over the Mediterranean, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and more. The book is separated by food type (think seafood to vegetables) and features delectable dishes such as za’atar-rubbed chicken, red lentil soup with North African spices and orange polenta cake, among 500 other recipes. You can purchase this cookbook for $32.99 or less online.
“Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Israel and Palestine come together beautifully in this widely regarded cookbook. Authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi are both from Jerusalem but Tamimi’s family is Palestinian and Ottolenghi’s is Jewish. Together, they contribute recipes from both cultures as well as other traditional dishes found in Jerusalem, which boasts Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. As such, you can expect diversity in addition to delectability in this 120-recipe book, including recipes such as roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar, lamb meatballs, mejadra stew (a rice, spice and lentil dish) and plenty more. You can get this cookbook for $35 or less online.
“Every Grain of Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop
Those seeking an authentic Chinese cooking experience, one devoid of westernized Chinese dishes, will delight in the efforts of Fuchsia Dunlop’s “Every Grain of Rice.” Dunlop, a westerner herself, has devoted her life to Chinese cuisine, garnering an international reputation as an expert in the field. “Every Grain of Rice,” which has received a James Beard Award, features veggie-heavy recipes that originate in the southern region of China. Recipes include sour-and-hot mushroom soup, Sichuanese numbing-and-hot beef and something she calls Emergency Late-Night Noodles. The book also includes guides on staple ingredients and tools you’ll need for your culinary adventure ahead. You can purchase this cookbook for $35 or less online.
“Feast: Food of the Islamic World” by Anissa Helou
“Feast” stands out for not covering the cuisine of one singular country, but rather a community who has migrated to various parts of the world. The author, Anissa Helou, follows the historical pathway of Muslim people and share recipes that were born from their residency in countries such as Turkey, Syria, Indonesia and Iran, as well as China and even Zanzibar. The James Beard Award-winning book contains 300 recipes that include several intriguing dishes such as Indian Scotch eggs, Saudi shrimp risotto, Zanzibari savory doughnuts and several regional kebabs (Lebanese, Turkish, Indian Galawati and so on). You can buy this cookbook for $60 or less online.
“La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy” by the Italian Academy of Cuisine
Italy is more than just pasta and pizza and there is no better cookbook to prove otherwise than “La Cucina.” Written by The Italian Academy of Cuisine, the book highlights and preserves the dishes that are specific to the 20 regions that comprise Italy. Not only do you get variety with this cookbook but you also get unmatched authenticity. More than 7,000 of the academy’s members traveled across Italy to document the recipes of its people. Their research netted 2,000 recipes that contain dishes that will be both familiar and unfamiliar to foreign eyes, including gnocchi from Campania as well as Calabrian anchovy fritters. You can find this cookbook for $45 or less online.
“Pasta Grannies” by Vicky Bennison
Pasta lovers will relish in this delightful how-to that showcases Italian grandmothers doing what they do best: making delicious, homemade pasta. “Pasta Grannies” is basically the book version of the popular YouTube channel of the same name . The author’s mission was to chronicle the women who still make pasta from scratch daily, a tradition that is largely dying in Italy but still kept alive by the people who grew up without premade pasta. Not only do you get 80 mouthwatering recipes for homemade pasta, which range from regional spaghetti to tortellinis filled with the good stuff (think cheese, meat, veggies and herbs), but you also get to know the women behind the pasta, a fulfilling addition to an already charming cookbook. You can grab this cookbook for $29.99 or less online.
“Jubilee” by Toni Tipton-Martin
“Jubilee” is a unique cookbook that highlights recipes and their cooks that otherwise might be forgotten in the folds of history. Toni Tipton-Martin, a food and nutrition journalist, wanted to broaden people’s understanding of African American cooking by tapping into the history of the African diaspora and all the dishes and flavors that have come from it, including recipes from lower and upper class people of color. Recipes here are credited with their inspiration and source (some of which date back to the 1800s), creating a unique type of cooking experience that’s rooted in recognition, appreciation and mindfulness. Inside “Jubilee,” you’ll find tasty dishes such as okra gumbo, curried meat pies and salmon croquettes. You can purchase this cookbook for $35 or less online.
“Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America” by Maricel E. Presilla
This comprehensive cookbook brings all the cuisines and dishes of Latin America together in one text. The cookbook features 584 recipes that span several Latin American countries, including Presilla’s native Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela, to name a few. Inside you’ll find recipes from her family, including calabaza (a type of pumpkin) puree, various types of regional tamales and empanadas and a hearty helping of lesser-known dishes such as cactus paddle soup from Mexico and Guatemalan pepián (a spicy stew with meat). You can buy this cookbook for $49.95 or less online.
“The Art of French Pastry: A Cookbook” by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman
Travelers with sweet tooths gather round: “The Art of French Pastry” should be the source of your next dessert. Jacquy Pfeiffer, the pastry chef behind the book, has lifelong experience with the renowned French craft. He grew up baking in his father’s boulangerie, worked as a pastry chef for the French navy and more recently cofounded Chicago’s The French Pastry School. In addition to mouthwatering French staple desserts, including croissants, brioche, eclairs and more, Pfeiffer’s cookbook explains every aspect of the baking process to the reader in each recipe, so no questions go unanswered while preparing your treats. You’ll learn why one technique is best to create a certain kind of texture, why a specific ingredient reacts the way it does with another and so on. With Pfeiffer’s help, you’ll become the master of French pastry in no time. You can purchase this cookbook for $40 or less online.
“How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman’s 2,000-recipe “How to Cook Everything” is considered a cooking bible. Its plethora of recipes and easy-to-follow instructions have been used by home cooks and highly regarded chefs since its debut in 1998. This book is perfect for beginners who want to make international food but aren’t married to one cuisine or culture and would rather try a variety of dishes. Inside, you’ll find recipes for meats, salads, dumplings and noodles, plus sauces like salsas, chutneys, mustards and so much more. The cookbook also breaks down exactly what kind of kitchen tools every home chef needs as well as important staple ingredients to have on hand. You’ll even learn proper care for pots and pans, cutting techniques and the types of knives to use. You can find this cookbook for $37 or less online.
Find Your Ingredients Using a Grocery Delivery Service and Get Cooking
Getting your groceries has never been easier thanks to grocery delivery services. Visit the grocery retailer’s website, add ingredients to your cart, choose your preferred drop-off time and have everything you need delivered right to your door. Grocery delivery is an important tool to utilize right now with social distancing and stay-at-home orders in place. Below are a few grocery delivery services to get you started: