Ever since Julia Child published "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 1961 home cooks have relished the opportunity to experience another culture or recreate dishes from a favorite travel adventure right in their own kitchen. The range and diversity of these kinds of cookbooks continues to expand each year as more people learn about unfamiliar cuisines thanks to a growing number of ethnically diverse restaurants and food trucks.
If you have a cook on your holiday shopping list who loves exotic flavors and likes to tackle new dishes in the kitchen, here's a sampling of world cuisines titles released in 2014.
"Extending the Table" by Joetta Handrich Schlabach
This is the second edition of the cookbook first released by the Mennonite Central Committee in 1991 that aims to "promote global understanding and celebrate the variety of world cultures," according Herald Press editorial director Amy Gingerich. All royalties from the sales of the cookbook help fund global relief, peace, and community efforts through MCC.
From Afghanistan to Zambia, this edition includes regional menus in addition to tags that highlight gluten-free and vegetarian recipes. Some examples of recipes include, Indian Flat Bread, Egyptian Spicy Lentil Pot, Thai Stir-Fried Vegetables, Chinese Bang Bang Chicken, to name just a few.
"Extending the Table" also includes short articles about the people and cultures the recipes were drawn from.
"My Paris Kitchen" by David Lebovitz
In "My Paris Kitchen" former professional cook David Lebovitz remasters classic French dishes incorporating the new culinary culture of France that uses ingredients and techniques from around the world, reflecting the way that Parisians eat today.
"Paris is evolving in a globalized world," writes Lebovitz. "The French are not, and should not be, expected to remain firmly rooted in their culinary past.... I'm thrilled that young chefs, and diners, are taking French cuisine to the next level."
Along with recipes that make you want to linger at the table, "My Paris Kitchen" is filled with compelling photos from both Lebovitz's kitchen and the street markets of Paris written in the breezy style that has made Lebovitz a popular food blogger.
"Scandinavian Cooking" by Tina Nordström
Everything Nordic is hot right now, as Monitor writer Sara Miller Llana reported in her May 2014 cover story, "The Nordic Way." Sweden's first female celebrity chef Tina Nordström teaches home cooks how to keep cool in the kitchen with "Scandinavian Cooking." She's also a busy mom who writes from the middle of her swirl of raising kids, so her emphasis is on simple tools and ingredients – fast!
Along with family photos, letters, and personal essays, Nordström will win you over with her playful style and convince you that there is no such thing as too many salmon and dill recipes.
"North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" by Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Jody Eddy
While our thoughts are northward, "North" is a gorgeous book full of photos and short profiles of the people who grow and make food in the strange and beautiful place that is Iceland. The cookbook showcases the vision of Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason to honor Iceland's culinary heritage.
These are chef-created recipes but approachable for the home cook who has the will and patience to do things like make skyr (a thick, creamy cheese that is fundamental in Icelandic cuisine), work with marrowbones, simmer leafy birch twigs, and garnish with Arctic char roe.
If anything, this cookbook will stoke the embers of your dream to travel to Iceland and you can creep around the edges of the curious forest of the New Nordic cuisine with a few of "North's" simpler recipes.
"The Cuban Table" by Ana Sofía Peláez and Ellen Silverman
Everyone has something to share in "The Cuban Table," whether they are a home cook, professional chef, restaurateur, or a food writer. Ana Sofía Peláez and Ellen Silverman traveled through Cuba, Miami, and New York to document and learn about Cuban food. Readers will find everything from the iconic Cuban sandwich to rich stews with Spanish accents to delicious desserts.
"Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and beyond" by Sabrina Ghayour
Widely lauded in Britain, Iranian-born chef and food writer Sabrina Ghayour has brought "Persiana" to the United States. Simple Persians stews such as Spiced Lamb and Apricot, and salads that pair ingredients you probably have in your cupboard in new ways, such as Fig and Green Bean Salad with Date Molasses and Toasted Almonds, make "Perisana" a fun adventure for the home cook.
"The Vietnamese Market Cookbook" by Van Tran and Anh Vu
"The Vietnamese Market Cookbook" explores the heart of Vietnamese flavors: salty, sweet, bitter sour, and spicy. The authors grew up in Hanoi, but left jobs in London's finance world to open a market stall, successfully filling London's culinary scene with banh mi sandwiches. Packed with flavor and gorgeous photographs, lovers of Asian cuisine will want to master the secrets shared in this cookbook.