"Foreign" cookbooks?

Joined May 26, 2001
I subscribe to the Australian "Vogue Entertaining + Travel" which just included a flyer from an Australian cookbook club, listing some books I've heard of, and some I assume are mostly local. Looking at that, along with Kimmie's mention of Seductions of Rice as a Canadian book, made me wonder: what are the books you rely on that are NOT from your own country? Do you seek out "foreign" books? Does it matter to you where the author is from? Just curious.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
I like books that have international subject matter, but not necessarily those that have been printed in another country. I find the ingredients are different, proportions are often different (i.e., an English 'large egg' is different in size from an American 'large egg'), and sometimes ingredients are inaccessible. I'd much rather use a cookbook that's been printed in America, with the proportions, etc. that we use here. Imo!

That having been said, I love to look at the pictures!!!
Joined May 18, 2001
I regularly use books and magazines from France. Given the choice of working from the original French or using an English translation of the same material, I prefer the original. Unfortunately, many translators make adaptations to recipes that just don't make sense in French cooking. I also find many errors in the translaion of cooking equipment terms.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
The majority of my cookbooks are from the USA; and no, it doesn't matter to me where the author comes from. A good book is a good book!

I also agree with the points made by Marmalady and Bouland. :)
Joined Jan 5, 2001
I always make it a point to pick up at least one cook book wherever I travel. My friends always know what to bring back for me from their travels as well. While many of the recipes are not feasible here, I do find that's it's an important way to learn about the people and the culture. If it's written in a language that I don't speak, then the more pictures the better! ;)
Joined Jan 26, 2002
so....anneke....an appreciation for food and culture...sounds like a great course to teach!!! like you, i appreciate "foreign" cookbooks..they are often helpful in developing an appreciation for cooking with out borders...as long as we understand what we are using and doing. My preference is for "older" cookbooks, since it is always fun to see where we have been as oppossed to where we are going. as always...food for thought!
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Being from Scotland, I have a few British cookbooks I brought back from visits home. I have to translate some ingredients and measures but being fluent in both English and American :D that's usually not a problem.
It is certainly easier to use books written in the US because they use terms and ingredients that are familiar. And who's to say what is a good "foreign" book? I'm sure there are bad cookbook authors in other countries just as there are here. Just because you buy a book in Florence or Paris written in Italian or French as the case may be, doesn't necessarily mean it's good or representative of the region or culture.
If I'm going to spend my money on a book, I want to be able to trust the author. It doesn't matter where the author was born so long as they write a good book and have an intimate knowlege of the subject. (Like any kind of author I suppose.)

Joined Jun 1, 2001
Like Anneke, I also pick up at least (haha!) one cookbook whenever I travel. That's also what I usually request when friends ask what I'd like as a souvenir -- "some odd local cookbook." The weirder the better - I don't necessarily cook from them, but they go in my Cooking Peculiars section.

I hate most British cookbooks. They seem one and all to be very badly formatted. As well, the ones designed to be sold in the States all have this thing that drives me MAD- translations of "obscure" cooking terms. Not just once. Not in a glossary in the back. No. EVERY TIME something is mentioned in a recipe.

"1 courgette (zucchini). Chop courgette (zucchini). Add courgette (zucchini) to sautéed onion."

Even were I NOT a word maven who already knows what a courgette is (and could look it up, in any one of my half-dozen dictionaries, if I did not), anyone who is stupid enough to need the word translated every time it appears has no business touching a hot stove.

Other than that, I don't much care where a cookbook comes from.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Waitrose Illustrated is a regular buy for me.....Interestingly I picked up a couple of German food mags to look at while dining solo in a German restaurant....combos that looked really unique and fresh!!! I was impressed, my preconceptions of German food are abismal, I'm glad to see innovative shtuff.
The French mags have outrageous recipes....like 8 recipes and detailed techniques on foie!!! Foie with aspic encroute was one...this was a non-pro mag.
Cookbooks....nope, generally won't spring the $30-45 for a book in a language I can't read....$5-7 for a mag ok ....go figure.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I too think cookbooks are the best souvenir you can get when visiting a foreign country. Any occasion is good excuse for a new cookbook. ;)

I like the precision of the French cookbooks measure. Too bad they are very, very expensive. A lot more so than an English written cookbook.

Granted the ingredients list can be a pain to adapt to our ingredients. Buying the English version is an easy solution to that problem. But once in a while I love getting a cookbook in my language just so I don't loose it.
Joined May 18, 2001

I agree that French cookbooks can be expensive, but I just got back from the store and it seemed that every English language cookbook I found attractive was $45 to $60! Unfortunately, the English-language translations of the French cookbooks can be attrocious. As I dig deeper into it, I'm finding that even the Larousse Gastronomique, which I initially thought to be a good translation, has many mistakes, omissions, and silly errors.

Unlike you, I have had little problem in obtaining the proper ingredients, in the San Francisco Bay Area, to use these books. Fish is the biggest problem, but I've usually been able to find a suitable substitute.
Top Bottom