As I’ve said, I’m not super fond of recipes, but I love cookbooks. (And novels, and textbooks, and magazines, and reading shampoo bottles, and CNN Headline News. Reading is FUNdamental.) Also, one of the best ways to get to a point where you don’t need recipes is to read recipes. It helps you get used to flavor combinations, ingredient ratios, and cooking techniques. I find it pretty hard to buy cookbooks online, unless I’m looking for a particular author or title. The bargain section of most bookstores is brimming with cookbooks. Flip through. Do you like the paper? The pictures? Is it a cuisine you’ve been curious about? Does it just seem delicious? There’s no reason to spend lots of money (unless you want to). You’re just going to get food on it anyway. Read the recipes. Try them out. No, your food probably won’t look like the pictures. That’s okay. Do it anyway. Here are a few of my favorite titles to get you started.
This is my favorite favorite. Basic vegan cooking that doesn’t always seem vegan. Looking to add more veggies to your life without feeling like you’re missing out? This is your book. Unless you don’t like cussing. The subtitle is Eat Like You Give a F**k, which you should. It’s totally worth it to just get a sharpie and redact it yourself.
Bryant Terry’s books are also vegan (you know I love my veggies). But his emphasis is on the foods of the African diaspora. The soul food and Caribbean favorites you might be familiar with are transformed, and the vegetables brought to the center of the table. Terry’s books are also great reads. He talks about food justice, music, and movies all in the context of delicious, healthy food.
This isn’t a cookbook, exactly. It has recipes (very good ones from a collection of top chefs), but its focus is on flavors and textures. There’s a section devoted to simple charts of the representative flavors and ingredients of different types of cuisine. Want something to taste Armenian? Parsley and yogurt. Canadian? Maple syrup. You can also look up ingredients and see what they go well with. What to do with all those plums from the CSA basket? Walnut Tart of Warmed Plums with Mascarpone Souffle? Alrighty then.
What’s your favorite cookbook? My mom likes Betty Crocker. Leave a comment!