The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection

The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection has been assembled by the Foodtourist team to help guide you through the maze of wonderful food writing that is now flooding the market. Some of it is recent writing, some is almost two hundred years old - but it is all relevant to our understanding of cooking today.

We need to carefully explain how we have chosen our favourite books. First, they are books that fall into the category of cookbooks or recipe books. Therefore you will not find Harold McGee's wonderful classic On Food and Cooking or Alan Davidson's The Oxford Companion to Food nor will you find the philosophic musings of Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

We have then made a judgement about the impact the book has had throughout the world.

Obviously, Escoffier has had an enormous effect on chefs from many countries over a very long period of time. Elizabeth David's works have been treasured on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. David Thompson's book on Thai Food has helped reveal to the world the complexity and harmony of this cuisine.

And so we came up with our list. We hope to soon create another list of our favourite reference books so that Harold McGee, Hervé This, Alan Davidson and others can also be recognised here for their efforts.

So our list lies below.

1 - Le Guide Culinaire:  A Guide to Modern Cookery by Auguste Escoffier

A Guide to Modern Cookery is Escoffier's masterpiece that set the scene for modern French cookery with the publication of 5012 technically exact recipes that were accurately reflected in the 1921 Flamarion edition translated for the English-speaking world.

This book is now regarded as the masterpiece and the reference for French classical recipes in the post-Careme era. They are precise, clear, accessible and able to be implemented by chefs and home cooks alike.

Be wary of editions containing only 2973 recipes as much of the richness of the original book is difficult to capture with these editions.

This a serious and thoughtful book which should be in the collection of every serious cookbook collector.

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2 - French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David

The classic tour de force of regional French food through the eyes of one of the greatest food writers of the 20th century.

We believe that French Provincial Cooking is one of the most important cookbooks ever published. It is Elizabeth David at her best. Her broad culinary knowledge, her evocative writing style, her forensic research skills and her humanity all shine through.

Elizabeth David was no ordinary person. She developed her taste for food while studying French history at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.

She became obsessed with French food and developed a desire to learn how to cook it well.
She was a leader in the publication of modern food books with her first offering being in 1950!

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3 - Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi

Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi is a classic Italian cookbook that is written with passion, humility, irreverence and humour. The recipes are well worth trying even though the book was written in the late nineteenth century.

We strongly believe that we can all learn a lot from history. This is just as important in cooking as it is in all other areas of human endeavour.

Therefore we like to turn to the classic cookbooks to hone our knowledge and skills.
The more we delve into it, the more the classic Italian offering 'Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well' by Pellegrino Artusi inveigles itself into our consciousness.

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4 - La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange by Evelyn Saint-Ange

Madame E. Saint-Ange is an enigma. Little has been written about her in the English language and we can find very few accounts of her life in the French language either, although it is clear that she was a French woman by the name of Marie Ebrard who, for many years, wrote a cooking column for the magazine Le Pot au Feu.

La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange is a beloved classic of the French cooking literature. We are lucky that Chez Panisse co-founder and lover of all things French, Paul Aratow, decided to take on the mammoth and exacting task of translating her extraordinary work into English.

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5 - Time Life 'The Good Cook' Series with Richard Olney (editor)

The Good Cook series is an enduring classic in the cookbook repertoire. The Time Life Series is still as relevant today as the day it was released.
The series was edited by Richard Olney who was assisted by a litany of future stars of the food writing firmament.
A feature of these books is the melding of superb photography with clear explanatory text and precise, clear recipes. The techniques and recipes cover most of the essential repertoire for chefs and home cooks alike.
The series is timeless and endearing and is the perfect gift for any budding cooks who want to master the basics as well as more advanced techniques.

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6 - Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is a revolutionary series of cookbooks that explore the science of cooking and the techniques required to reveal that science. The series is as groundbreaking as the Time Life Good Cook series was all those years ago. The books were produced as a project of polymath chef Nathan Myhrvold who worked as the Chief Technology Officer for Bill Gates at Microsoft until he resigned to concentrate on his first love - cooking!

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7 - Thai Food by David Thompson

Thai Food catapults straight into the pantheon of greats because it brilliantly captures the essentials of an entire cuisine.

And this is not a minor regional cuisine, but one of the most complex and wide-ranging cuisines of the world. It is also one that is understood by very few Western authors or chefs.

Thompson is a master of both writing and cooking -we have enjoyed his complex cooking for many, many years and continue to do so.

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8 - Modern Cookery for private families by Eliza Acton

Eliza Acton was one of the first British cookbook authors to codify recipes of the early nineteenth century. Her classic Modern Cookery for Private Families was one of the first European books to provide quantities and timings rather than just general descriptions. She even provided a separate list of ingredients, something common today but unheard of at that time.
Modern Cookery for Private Families is a classic that has influenced many cookbook writers ever since its publication in 1845 (it was first published under the title Modern Cookery, in all its Branches). Even the venerable Elizabeth David lists this book as the one that influenced her thinking the most.

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9 - Simple French Food by Richard Olney

Simple French Food is a thoughtful, erudite and compelling book from one of the greatest food writers of the last century. Olney's passion for French food and for simplicity in preparation and presentation shines through every page. This is an essential addition to every food lover's library.

Richard Olney deserves his place as one of the great food writers of the twentieth century.
There are two great cookbooks that were written at similar times and within a short distance of each other for a very similar purpose. One was the famous La Cuisine du Comté de Nice by the mayor of Nice, Jacques Médecin and the other was Simple French Food by American expatriate Richard Olney who lived along the coast near the town of Bandol. The purpose, clearly stated in each book, was a concern about the disappearing culinary traditions of the region.

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10 - The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers

The Zuni Café is one of our favourite places to eat in the world and Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers is one of the most inspiring references that is compulsory in every serious food lover's cookbook collection.

We love the fact that the book represents a complete departure from the worrying trend among so-called fashionable cookbooks of reducing all recipes to a few lines of description and only two or three ingredients. Instead, the recipes are accompanied by thoughtful, erudite and often witty dissertations that tell you why she does things and why the combinations of ingredients are necessary.

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11 - Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli

Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli has entered the pantheon of great cookbooks because of his deep understanding of food products and the clarity with which he sets out his ideas. He is also one of our favourite chefs. This is a classic book with practical guidelines for everything from charcuterie making to the art of perfect pasta.

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12 - Middle Eastern Cookery by Arto der Haroutunian

Arto der Haroutunian is a brilliant observer of the food of the Middle East and North Africa. Each of his publications has become a classic in its own right. We have chosen his wonderful book on the food of the Middle East to represent his writings in this collection of great cookbooks.

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13 - The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan

Even though it was published in the mid-seventies we still think The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan is the best of Marcella's books.

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14 - Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji

Japanese Cooking  A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji is a thoughtful and careful book surveying many of the great recipes of Japan. Don't skip the excellent introduction by M K Fisher - it is a gem!

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15 - The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander

The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander is one of those truly great cookbooks that rank alongside The Joy of Cooking and La Bonne Cuisine in terms of the influence the books have had in their home country and beyond.
Many people write about food, but there are few true food writers. Only a handful combine a deep understanding of and appreciation for food and at the same time are able to convey a clear and concise message. Stephanie Alexander is one such writer.
After running a succession of highly acclaimed restaurants in Melbourne, Stephanie Alexander gradually moved into food communication, writing a classic cookbook and making personal and media appearances to spread her messages about the importance of food and wine in daily life.
First published in 1996, The Cook's Companion has recently been revised, rewritten and re-released.

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16 - Land of Plenty:  A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop

Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop is a valuable addition to our knowledge of the vibrant and complex cuisine of the Sichuan province of China. The fiery dishes have not been dumbed down for timid Western palates.

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17 - Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard

Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard is one of our favourite and most cherished cookbooks from the 1970s when the Cuisine Minceur craze was sweeping the Western world.
Michael Guérard eschewed the use of fat and encouraged us to eat really well without the unhealthy bits. But the recipes were exciting and accessible even if exacting.
We had to make sure that we used .25 of a teaspoon and not .5 of a teaspoon. But the fresh tomato soup with pounded basil was a revelation. The use of arachide oil and fromage blanc was exciting for the time, thus making the Aubergine Caviar recipe one to treasure.
One of the most emblematic recipes of the time was the crab salad with grapefruit - it heralded the onslaught of new flavour combinations. The combination of crab meat, green beans, asparagus, grapefruit, radicchio and chervil was as radical as Che Guevara's plans for South America.

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18 - Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop wrote the wonderful and authentic compilation of recipes from the Sichuan Province called Land of Plenty, here she has applied those same skills to produce a survey of the Hunan Province in south west China.

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19 - The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Alice Waters is not only a great chef she is also a talented writer. The Art of Simple Food gives us an insight into why Chez Panisse has been such a great restaurant for such a long time.

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20 - Good Things By Jane Grigson

All of Jane Grigson's books are packed with authoritative information and wonderful recipes that work and Good Things is no exception.

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21 - The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden is a scholarly yet approachable survey of Jewish food and cooking techniques throughout the world.

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22 - Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child deserves its place in every food lover's collection. The recipes are written with rare precision and make no concessions to the "quick and easy" brigade or the "low-fat, low-flavour" movement.

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23 - The New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne

This best-seller was first published in 1961 and underwent a major revision in 1990. We still like the original as it provides a useful snapshot of American cooking at that time. Many of the recipes are timeless and don't need to be updated.

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24 - Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller is subtitled Family-Style Recipes which is a signal that the recipes are likely to be approachable and do not require elaborate preparation. And on reading the book many are able to be implemented by the home cook.

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25 - La Cuisine du Comté de Nice by Jacques Médecin

La Cuisine du Comté de Nice is a classic book from the highly opiniated Mayor of Nice Jacques Médecin setting out exactly what the wonderful cuisine of the Nice area is and how it should be prepared. If you have ever wondered what the exact ingredients for a Niçoise Salad should be then this is the source you should turn to.

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26 - The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas

The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas is a masterful book that surveys the breadth and depth of traditional Greek cooking in a lively, entertaining yet scholarly way. It is a key book for anyone wanting to understand the true cooking of this fascinating country.

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27 - Catalan Cuisine by Colman Andrews

Colman Andrews in this major work provides us with stunning insight into the wonderful world of Catalan Cuisine.

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28 - Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton

An essential reference for all those food lovers who are interested in tracking down old recipes and making judgements about how techniques are changing (or even more interestingly staying the same). This is a major work by an important writer.

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29 - The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer

The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook was written by Fannie Farmer in 1896 and quickly became one of the most popular cook books in the United States.

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30 - Roast Chicken and other stories by Simon Hopkinson

Roast Chicken and other stories by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham is a great cookbook for a number of reasons. The first is the format. It explores about forty small topics, a chapter at a time presenting a few recipes for each topic. The second is that he seems to favour classic recipes and just wants to make them easy to cook and for them to be more satisfying. And the third reason is that the things he writes about are the things we like to eat.

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31 - Larousse Gastronomique

Larousse Gastronomique is a classic reference cookbook that is a compulsory item in every food lover's library.

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32 - Flavors of the Riviera by Colman Andrews

Flavors of the Riviera by Colman Andrews is an insightful and thoroughly-researched survey of the true food of north-west Italy and southern France.

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33 - European Peasant Cookery by Elisabeth Luard

European Peasant Cookery is yet another important contribution from Elisabeth Luard and her publisher Grub Street with this massive survey of food from 25 countries from Turkey to Iceland.

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34 - The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy

The Essential Cuisines of Mexico is a compendium of Diana Kennedy's three major works  The Cuisines of Mexico, The Tortilla Book, and Mexican Regional Cooking. Kennedy writes with authority and an obvious love for the country, the people and the food.

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35 - The Legendary Cuisine of Persia by Margaret Shaida

This Glenfiddich Food Book of the Year award winner is one of the best surveys of this important cuisine. Margaret Shaida includes much information on the cultural history of Persia (Iran) as well as many insights into the techniques required for reproducing the recipes in the home kitchen.

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36 - The Cookery Book of Lady Clark of Tillypronie by Charlotte Clark

The Cookery Book of Lady Clark of Tillypronie is a vast collection of English and Scottish domestic recipes collected over 50 years in the nineteenth century.

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37 - South East Asian Food by Rosemary Brissenden

An authoritative survey of south-east Asian cuisine by one of the world's authorities on the subject, Rosemary Brissenden.

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38 - Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin

Lin Yutang is a distinguished Chinese artist. His wife (Tsuifeng Lin) and daughter (Hsiang Ju Lin) have used his artistic skills to decorate this important book on Chinese cuisine. This is much more than a recipe book, providing a sound cultural context for the lovely recipes presented in this compelling book.

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39 - Indonesian Regional Cooking by Sri Owen

Sri Owen, the author of highly-regarded The Rice Book, is also an expert on regional Indonesian cooking - which is no easy task considering the myriad influences from both nearby Malaysia and from the west that combine to make this such an interesting array of cuisines. This book is an important survey of the variety of cooking styles that contribute to the cuisine of this vast archipelago.

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40 - The Whole Beast:  Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson

Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson is a small, elegant book packed full of great recipes that can be attempted in the home kitchen. While some are for the more adventurous, most are quite straightforward, yet delicious.

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41 - El Bulli 1998 - 2002 by Ferran Adria

The modern classic by the master of el Bulli, Ferran Adria. A great book to help you reminisce about your visit to this iconic restaurant.

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42 - American Cookery by James Beard

James Beard is one of the most acclaimed food writers of the post-war period and American Cookery is one of his best publications.

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43 - The Picayune Creole Cook Book

A significant cookbook compiled at the end of the nineteenth century that aimed to preserve the wonderful Creole recipes of Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular. The recipes are just as relevant now as they were then.

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44 - The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert entreats us to take more time in preparing for and cooking our foods. As usual with her books, this one has well-crafted recipes that are precise and easy to follow. A welcome relief among all those 'quick and easy' recipe books that are cluttering the shelves of the bookstores.

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45 - Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

It is no wonder that the Moosewood Cookbook is one of the best selling cookbooks ever! It is written with imagination and directness and the recipes are easy to imagine and to prepare.

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46 - River Café Italian Kitchen by Gray and Rogers

River Café Italian Kitchen by Gray and Rogers is a compendium of recipes and techniques from the owners of the wonderful restaurant on the banks of the Thames in London that we enjoy visiting so much.

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47 - Salt to Taste by Marco Canora

Salt to Taste is a very practical book that provides great advice for reproducing the soulful food that Marco Canora presents at Hearth and the Terroir bars in New York.

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48 - The Book of Armenian Cooking by Sonia Uvezian

The Book of Armenian Cooking by Sonia Uvezian deserves its place in every food lover's library because it clearly and precisely explains the vibrant and exciting dishes that comprise the cuisine of this now small country that sits at the crossroads of the world.

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49 - Miss Parloa's New Cookbook by Maria Parloa

Miss Parloa's New Cookbook by Maria Parloa is sub-titled A Guide to Marketing and Cooking and is a thorough survey of recipes and cooking techniques and utensils available towards the end of the 19th Century. Maria Parloa was a very influential author and lecturer.

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50 - Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France by Curnonsky

Curnonsky was the nom-de-plume of the great French gourmand Maurice-Edmond Sailland. He was concerned about the internationalisation of food brought about by hotel chains at the start of the twentieth century therefore collected and published a broad range of traditional French provincial recipes to ensure that they were preserved and promoted.

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51 - Delights from the Garden of Eden by Nawal Nasrallah

Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraq Cuisine by Nawal Nasrallah is a recent classic that should be a feature of every food lover's library.

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52 - Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer

The Joy of Cooking was first published in 1931. It quickly became a classic cookbook in the United States and also became very popular in the United Kingdom. Some of the later editions were updated by Irma's daughter Marion Becker.

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53 - Bouchon by Thomas Keller

Bouchon is a massive tome from the prodigious Thomas Keller and his colleague Jeffrey Cerciello. For those who found the recipes in The French Laundry cookbook exacting, the recipes here are much more accessible but still stamped with the same purity and excellence of technique.

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54 - The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller

A great cookbook by Thomas Keller of the famous French Laundry in Yountville, California.

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55 - The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells

Patricia Wells has created a lovely book that details the great recipes of Provence along with a guide to the markets, shops and eating places of this amazing region.

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56 - Desserts by Pierre Hermé by Dorrie Greenspan and Pierre Hermé

Whenever we arrive in Paris, one of our first stops is Pierre Hermé's jewel-box shop on the Left Bank. Every piece of patisserie is a work of art, glistening and inviting you in to the store, to spend like there is no tomorrow!

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57 - Tetsuya by Tetsuya Wakuda

A bright, colourful, clearly-written collection of the recipes of Australia's master chef - Tetsuya Wakuda.

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58 - Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking by Giuliano Bugialli

Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking by Giuliano Bugialli is a major tour of Italian cooking techniques.

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59 - Mediterranean Cookery by Claudia Roden

Claudia Roden is one of the best modern-day writers on the food of the Middle East and Mediterranean. This is one of the books that ensured her place in the history of food writing.

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60 - Authentic Vietnamese Cooking by Corinne Trang

Corinne Trang presents a collection of authentic Vietnamese recipes designed to ensure that Western cooks can start to unravel the mysteries of this important cuisine.

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61 - Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su Huei

Huang Su Huei's Chinese Cuisine is a long-lasting classic of the Chinese repertoire. The recipes contained within are very brave for the early 1970s with cold jellyfish appearing in the first page.

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62 - L'Art Culinaire Moderne by Henri-Paul Pellaprat

Henri-Paul Pellaprat first published L'Art Culinaire Moderne (Modern Culinary Art) in 1935. It contains literally thousands of recipes (in the Escoffier tradition) and dozens of practical menus and hints on cooking techniques. He is best known as the founder of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.

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Our book recommendation

We recommend the excellent and entertaining book by Alice Feiring who is one of the foremost writers on natural wines.