Our picks for this year’s best cookbooks for people who couldn’t care less about food
The best new cookbooks this fall aren't just for cooks, they aren't even necessarily intended for those interested in food. Some may be suited for design freaks, others for the tech or travel-obsessed. Here's our roundup of food-inspired books to give to all the people in your life, not just the foodies.
For the Portland/Portlandia Fan
Chef Renee Erickson's cookbook A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus: Menus and Stories (Sasquatch Books) is as much a crafty tribute to the beekeepers and butchers of the Pacific Northwest as it is a collection of robust recipes for dishes like pickled turnips or lacinato kale gratin.
For the Travel-Obsessed
With Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon), you don't have to travel to Mexico to taste Margarita Carrillo Arronte’s cerdo y nopales con chiles (pork with cactus paddles in chili sauce) or an authentic torta de jamón y queso (ham and cheese sandwich). You can at least daydream about those dishes while flipping through this voluminous Luis Barragán-inspired pink tome, divided by region.
For the Photographer or Farmer at Heart
Organic: Farmers and Chefs of the Hudson Valley (powerHouse Books) is a gorgeous tome (no doubt intended for your coffee table) that has no recipes, just stunning full-page photographs by Francesco Mastalia of the new rock stars: farmers. It includes first-person accounts of their lives in the Hudson Valley, New York—ground zero for the U.S. farm-to-table movement.
For the Graphic Novel Geek
Who doesn't need a step-by-step illustration of how to make vegetable- and cheese-filled ravioli or pizza Margherita from scratch? Adriano Rampazzo’s Chop, Sizzle, Wow: The Silver Spoon Comic Cookbook (Phaidon), based on the classic Silver Spoon cookbook, has no ingredient lists, no paragraph-long instructions, and no drool-worthy food porn. Instead it’s just illustrations of little bottles of olive oil or hands punching dough. (Pow!)
For the Philosopher/Aesthete/Italofile
Massimo Bottura’s Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef (Phaidon) is not a red sauce/white sauce kind of book. It’s more of an exhibition catalogue or an aestheticized philosophical treatise than a cookbook, in fact. In addition to photographs of dishes from Bottura’s much-lauded modernist restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, you’ll find meandering texts and images that have inspired the chef to create highly deconstructed dishes like Memory of a Mortadella Sandwich or La Dame et son Chevalier (The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna). Recipes are included almost as an afterthought in the last few pages of the book, but they’re aspirational at best.
For Your Drunk Uncle
Named for the East Village bar credited with igniting the modern (or throwback) craft cocktail movement, Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day (Ten Speed Press) may inspire your family members to up their game via small-batch liquors with homemade bitters and to lay off the rum and coke. Think of it as a subtle hint to enjoy quality over quantity. Plus, there’s an entire chapter devoted to ice.
For the Television Junkie
Perhaps it goes without saying that In the Kitchen with Kris: A Kollection of Kardashian-Jenner Family Favorites (Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing) is a total guilty pleasure. Because “if I’m cooking an Italian meal, I will grab my red Hermès china to go with the red sauce (Fusilli with Tomato Basil Sauce).”