The Best Travel Cookbooks For Global Cuisine

12 cookbooks that take you around the globe

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This October, Tasting Table is getting away from it all. Come away with us as we explore the world of travel.

The cookbooks a New Yorker makes room for in his or her tiny apartment says a lot about what's good. There's no room for anything but the favorites. Each month, we will share a few of them with you.

This month, we're all about travel, and there's nothing like a fantastic cookbook and dinner party to transport us around the globe without ever leaving our kitchens. Claudia Roden takes us to the tiny towns of Spain, while David Thompson invites us to pull up a stool along a bustling street in Bangkok, and Fany Gerson beckons us to the pastry shops of Mexico. Check out what's on our shelf and share what's on yours in the comments. We'd love to hear.

The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden (Ecco, $45)

Culinary researcher and storyteller Claudia Roden digs deep into the history and diversity of Spanish cuisine in this tome with recipes that range from the familiar (a stunning paella) to the often overlooked (fried goat cheese drizzled with honey). The matte-finished photos that accompany them allow readers to slip into the small towns and private gardens of the country.

Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay (Ten Speed Press, $30)

In much of the American South, barbecue is a way of life, and there are few places where that is more true than at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin's book is a deep, enveloping trip into that lifestyle—complete with smoker diagrams.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press, $35)

Israeli and Palestinian chefs and friends Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi crack open the food of the complex nation and put their own spin on it in their hit cookbook. Though most of the recipes require a few extra ingredients and a bit of extra time in the kitchen, we've yet to find one that isn't worth it. Don't miss their narrative introduction, which takes you inside their childhoods and the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

My Sweet Mexico, by Fany Gerson (Ten Speed Press, $30)

"Sweetness in Mexico is found all around," New York City chef Fany Gerson proclaims in her book that celebrates all of that sugar. Gerson walks readers through regional variations, traditional desserts and more modern French-influenced sweets. While some of the recipes require advanced knowledge, the book is an excellent guide to an often overlooked dessert capital.

Thai Street Food, by David Thompson (Ten Speed Press, $60)

Thai food is at its best when eaten on a tiny plastic stool on the side of a bustling street or in a crowded market. Australian chef David Thompson, who has dedicated his professional life to exploring Thai cooking, takes readers on a tour of the best street food in the country with recipes and vibrant photos—the heavy book belongs on a coffee table as much as it does in the kitchen.

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji (Kodansha USA, $45)

More than 25 years its first printing, Shizuo Tsuji's cookbook is still the essential primer to Japanese cooking with 500 drawn illustrations and 230 recipes teaching readers classic techniques. Hosting a traditional Japanese feast at home requires planning and time, but for those who want to replicate one, there's no better resource.

An Invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey (Knopf, $17)

The doyenne of Indian cooking, Madhur Jaffrey, welcomes readers to Indian cuisine in a delightfully unintimidating way, reassuring us that she learned to cook from the pages of her mother's letters that she received while she was studying in England.

The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking, by Mimi Sheraton (Random House, $45)

Fifty years after the first release of Mimi Sheraton's German cookbook, the book is still an authority on an often overlooked cuisine. Dispelling the idea that all German food is what's eaten in Bavaria, Sheraton writes authoritatively about everyday and holiday dishes around the country from several herring preparations to sauerbraten marinated in beer to jelly doughnuts.

Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, by Pierre Thiam and Jennifer Sit (Lake Isle Press, $35)

Pierre Thiam doesn't just show you how to make the national dish thiebou jenn or walk you through essential staples in the Senegalese pantry. Rather the New York City-based chef and caterer draws you into the country's vibrant eating culture, from laying out the rules of eating around the communal bowl to penning profiles of farmers and fisherman.

Banana coconut fritters from Senegal and chili garlic fish from Spain | Photos: Evan Sung and Jason Lowe

Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die, by Diane Kochilas (Rodale Books, $35)

Diane Kochilas's latest tome of Greek cuisine focuses on Ikaria, the Aegean island where people live long and prosper. Scattered among an array of accessible, authentic Greek recipes, Kochilas shares photos and stories of colorful village icons—like the 83-year-young beekeeper who calls honey "nature's own Viagra."

Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky (Artisan, $35)

Grilling over an open fire is a way of life in Argentina, a practice steeped in tradition and deeply connected to the country's famed local beef. South American cooking legend Francis Mallmann breaks down the custom in this book in seven different methods (hence the name) from a wood-fire oven to a cast-iron caldron, with suggestions for the home cook who maybe can't start a live fire in the backyard without the fire department showing up.

Chez Panisse Café Cookbook, by Alice Waters (HarperCollins, $37.50)

Nearly every one of Alice Waters's cookbooks can be considered a classic, but none of them represents the best of what California cuisine is better than this cookbook. When it opened in 1980, the café was supposed to be a place for Waters and her friends to hang out. In turn, however, it created a community of artists, activists and friends who believe in one thing: a delicious revolution.