Books to cook your way through this fall
There’s no other season that can inspire me to change up my kitchen routine the way fall can. Perhaps it’s the “back to school” vibe that is still hardwired into me, or the natural end of lazy beach days, but something about this change of seasons brings out my most ambitious self.
I have a bad habit of buying cookbooks, making a few recipes, and then deferring to the wide array of web resources while my beautiful cookbook collection gathers dust. I also fall prey to my poor planning habits when it comes to food shopping, and usually end up whipping together whatever is in my kitchen. This season, I’m feeling inspired to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to a cookbook and branch out of my comfort zone. Below are a few books that would be great for doing some deep diving this fall and discovering a new source of comfort food.
British-Iranian writer and former human rights campaigner Yasmin Khan traversed Iran, from Tabriz to Tehran to Isfahan, and many places in between, collecting recipes from Iranian home kitchens for this award-winning Persian cookbook. For those looking for authentic, accessible recipes as well as an introduction to the culture and heritage of Persian cuisine, this is the perfect book to get lost in. Several of her recipes are also gluten-free and dairy-free.
Japanese Home Cooking: Simple Meals, Authentic Flavors by Sonoko Sakai
Former film producer Sono Sakai, who grew up between the US, Japan, and Mexico, left her full-time job in 2008 and took up the craft of noodle-making. Although she still considers herself just a home cook, her reputation has grown considerably, and as an experienced educator, she possesses the artful skill of guiding her readers through a clear, thoughtful approach to Japanese home cooking.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin
Author of the The Jemima Code, culinary journalist and community activist Toni Tipton-Martin builds upon her extensive research and adapts historic recipes for the home kitchen in Jubilee. Showing a new side of African-American cuisine that is diverse, varied, and spans far beyond soul food, this is a great book to not only discover new recipes but also learn about centuries of African-American culinary history.
A decade ago, I lived in Istanbul where I worked as an English teacher, and Musa Dağdeviren’s restaurant Çiya Sofrasi was by far my favorite restaurant in the city. I dined there dozens of times, and made sure to bring friends when they visited. Dağdeviren is so much more than a restaurateur and chef - he is a food historian, of sorts, and Çiya Sofrasi is something of a living museum of traditional recipes from the country’s ethnically diverse history. If you’re interested in doing a deeper dive into the country’s culinary legacy, traversing its range of influences, this would be the book for you! If you need a little nudge of inspiration, look no further than his Chef’s Table episode on Netflix for greater context into this extraordinary chef.
This is a new book, coming out mid-September, so there aren’t any reviews to go by as of yet, but just perusing the sample pages, my mouth is already watering. I can already tell this will make for some wonderful homemade meals this fall. Mely Martinez has traveled and worked around Mexico, and started her own food blog back in 2008, called Mexico in My Kitchen, which has become the go-to source for many when it comes to authentic Mexican home cooking.