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Mastering the Art of French Cooking does a fantastic job of teaching what you need to do to cook all of the classic French recipes and why you need to do it the way that is recommended.

Can anyone recommend similar books for Northern and Southern Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese (Cantonese, Szechuan ...) ... etc?

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This is difficult: most places that aren't Europe haven't codified their culinary practices into any right/wrong way to do things. In most cultures, the food is cooked by hungry people in houses, since there isn't enough money to make restaurants worthwhile. This was the case with Indian food until the English got interested in the 70s, and is still true in most 3rd world countries. Not saying you won't find good ethnic cookbooks, just nothing like MtAoFC. –  Adam Shiemke Jul 19 '10 at 19:50
    
you should really make this a community wiki question, as it's not a question that could have a right answer, and is basically a poll. –  Mike Sherov Jul 19 '10 at 21:59
    
@Mike It isn't obvious how to do that –  richcollins Jul 21 '10 at 2:31
    
click edit to edit the question, there should then be a checkbox for community wiki. –  Mike Sherov Jul 21 '10 at 2:51
    
We need books like MtAoFC because it does a great job explaining the intricacies so guys please post books that you have tried out recipes from for the sake of credibility. –  Reno Dec 7 '10 at 7:35

15 Answers 15

up vote 6 down vote accepted

French Cuisine (other than JC):

Patricia Wells - Bistro Cooking, At Home in Provence

Paula Wolfert - The Cooking of Southwest France (if you love ducks, that's the book for you)

Elizabeth David - French Provincial Cooking

I've also heard great things about Dorie Greenspan's recent Around My French Table, although reviewers note that as a contemporary French cooking has a lot of influences from around the globe (Asia, North Africa and even USA). However, if you'd like to find out what French people are likely too cook at home these days, this has to be a great resource.

Spanish Cuisine

Penelopa Casas - The Foods and Wines of Spain, Tapas

Portuguese

Jean Anderson - The Food of Portugal

Italian

Marcella Hazan - The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Mexican

Rick Bayless - Authentic Mexican, Mexico One Plate At a Time

Russian

Anya von Bremzen - Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook

German

Mimi Sheraton - The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking

Japanese

Shizuo Tsuji - Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

Chinese

Irene Kuo - The Key To Chinese Cooking

Barbara Tropp - The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking

Thai

David Thompson - Thai Food

Indian

Julie Sani - Classic Indian Cooking, Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grains Cooking

Madhur Jaffrey - Indian Cooking, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, A Taste of India

Middle-Eastern

Claudia Roden - The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

Greek

Susanna Hoffman - The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking

Diane Kochilas - The Food and Wine of Greece

South American

Filipe Rojas-Lombardi - The Art of South-American Cooking

Copeland Marks - False Tongues and Sunday Bread

Elisabeth L. Ortiz - A Taste of Latin America

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I don't know all these books/authors, but the ones I do know (Hazan, Bayless, Jaffrey, Roden, Tropp) on this list are outstanding and great recommendations. –  bikeboy389 Dec 7 '10 at 16:51

If you love books on cooking that explain the what and the why, here are two for you:

  • "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee
  • "Cookwise" by Shirley O. Corriher
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This is a great book for Mexican Food.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mexican-Food-Simple-Thomasina-Miers/dp/0340994975/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279568735&sr=1-1

This lady was in Master Chef UK and was a fantastic chef in the competition.

Not sure if it is a 'Mastering the Art Of' type of book, but she has some great ideas on food.

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Mimi Sheraton's classic The German Cookbook comes to mind - similar era, comprehensive, etc.

Diana Kennedy's The Cuisines of Mexico also.

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I too love Julia Child's book. The Italian equivalent is without doubt "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan. She describes techniques and philosophies of the cuisine, touches on regional information, and answers the many "whys" about the idiosyncrasies of each recipe. I can't recommend it enough.

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I should have mentioned that I have that one, and that it is my second favorite cookbook ;-) –  richcollins Jul 21 '10 at 2:32

Marcella Hazan is probably the Italian equivalent to Julia: http://www.amazon.com/Essentials-Classic-Italian-Cooking-Marcella/dp/039458404X

Of course, Julia was persnickety in a way that Italians aren't. Italians are picky about fresh ingredients, mostly.

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For Jewish food, The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day is brilliant, with some lovely stories to go along with the food.

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Thai Food by David Thompson is one of the best regional cook books I have seen. It goes into a lot of detail of the ingredients, methods and history of Thai Cooking. I have had some great successes and a few epic fails using it.

It can be too much for some, and it makes no compromises on ingredients so if you don't have an Asian store near by it may not been too useful to you.

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For Chinese, look at Betty Crocker's Chinese Cookbook, by Leeann Chin. It's not the complete Tome like Mastering, but it will get you started. I see there is a different tile, Betty Crocker's New Chinese Cookbook, which I take to be a revision, but I've never seen it.

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For Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican is tops in terms of breadth of coverage and detailed explanations of preparation methods. You really get a strong sense of how food is prepared and consumed in Mexico, and some excellent instruction on how to prepare those foods in a non-Mexican kitchen.

I also highly recommend Rick Bayless's television program "Mexico One Plate at a Time". In each episode he goes to Mexico and shows you how some dish or ingredient is used and eaten in Mexico, and then goes back to his kitchen in Chicago and shows you how to prepare a version of it at home.

Diana Kennedy's Mexican cookbooks are also highly rated, and I have one, but I didn't find it quite as engaging as Bayless's book.

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I almost forgot my other favorate cookbook of all time The Moro Cookook, this is by the owners of Moro restaurant in london. It has two follow ups but I think the first is the best. While it is not as deep as some of the books mentioned here. It has a good variety of north african influenced cuisine, with some tastes that all but the most adventurous cooks will find new.

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If techniques apply, Mastering the Grill by Andrew Schloss (Amazon Link). It's encyclopedic--covers all ingredients, preparations, timing, techniques, marinades, sauces, brines, rubs, cuisines, dishes, spices, trivia. Plus it's very well organized and visually accesible.

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Jamie Oliver books are pretty epic when it comes to Italian and English cooking. Though i highly recommend that you watch the videos instead :)

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