The five best foreign cookbooks

Cooking and eating are two of life's greatest pleasures. While we each have our own unique comfort foods and family favourites, there comes a time when every keen chef begins to look further afield for inspiration. Though international cuisines might seem difficult to approach, there are plenty of illuminating cookbooks to guide you through the culinary maze. So, roll up your sleeves and get out the chopping board, because here's our list of the five best foreign food cookbooks to take you around the world from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Mexico: The Cookbook, Margarita Carrillo Arronte
Don’t Miss Recipe: Chiles en Nogada (chiles in walnut sauce)
Mexican cuisine is beguiling and approachable, filled to the brim with unique flavours and sensations that help make it so rewarding and refreshing. So it's no surprise that Margarita Carrillo Arronte's new cookbook has become one of the most popular culinary publications in recent years. Boasting more than six hundred and fifty authentic regional recipes, Mexico: The Cookbook features a diverse range of food types from street-food to carefully prepared meat dishes and delicious desserts. Local favourites such as tamales, fajitas and moles (a chilli and chocolate heavy sauce served with meat) feature in the book, as are specialty favourites such as nopales (cactus) salad and various fresh jugos (juices). You may never make all the recipes but the are still great fun to read. A must-have for fans of Latin American cooking.

Bonus: several prominent Mexican chefs have provided their own detailed set menus, making your next dinner party a breeze!

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, $59.95


"All my life I have wanted to travel through Mexico to learn authentic recipes from each region and now I don't have to - Margarita has done it for me!" Eva Longoria.

Spice I Am, Sujet Seankham
Don’t miss recipe: Saenkham’s signature stir-fried crisp pork belly
After establishing five of Sydney's most revered and beloved Thai restaurants, Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham has opened up his treasured book of family recipes and shared his unique twists on regional Thai favourites. Saenkham's restaurants are famed for their intricate and mouth-watering meals, many of which are replicated in this easy-to-use book. Iconic dishes such as stir-fried crispy pork belly with basil are broken down into easy-to-follow instructions, and highlights are classics such as pad Thai and Massaman beef curry. This cookbook is as practical as it is inspiring. There is significant consideration given to sourcing ingredients within the Australian context and plenty of advice about cooking techniques and specialty methods.

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, $39.99


"Arguably Sydney’s most sating feast ..." The Daily Telegraph

Ready to explore your Thai culinary tastebuds even further? Read our feature on Thailand’s best cooking schools here.

The French Baker, Jean Michel Raynaud
Don’t miss recipe: Ricotta, orange, chocolate and pastis tat
Master French pâtissier Jean Michel Raynaud is synonymous with delicate pastries and desserts. As the head pâtissier of Sydney's Renaissance Patisserie and Baroque restaurant, his depth of experience and technical capacity is extraordinary. His role as the head chef of Sweet Art and Planet Cake has cemented his position as one of the best French pastry chefs in Australia. With The French Baker, Raynaud has shares his knowledge and profound abilities with the average Australian home chef, opening the door into a sweet world of tarts, pies, choux pastry, brioche and home made spreads. Admittedly, many recipes are complex (this is French cuisine, after all), however, the master chef offers step-by-step guides and helpful ‘how to’ photographs. A thoroughly workable book that is equal parts sweet and savoury. 

Publisher: Murdoch Books, $59.99


"...One of the country's most gifted cake decorators." The Sydney Morning Herald

Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto, Marc Vetri and David Joachim
Don’t miss recipe: Pappardelle with rabbit ragu and peaches
Italian pasta virtuoso, Marc Vetri, has gained an international reputation as a master of this cuisine. After a string of successful publications, Vetri returns with another vibrant book that is as much about Italian culture as it is about the hundreds of delightful recipes. Featuring traveller's vignettes and insights into the context of each regional dish, Mastering Pasta is a comprehensive Italian cookbook. Covering everything from deliciously light gnocchi to flavoursome risotto, this cookbook is already being hailed as the definitive guide to the Italian staple. It includes modern Italian pasta sauces and also examines the impact of using different flours to achieve different flavours and textures. A comprehensive guide to a culinary dolce vita.

Publisher: TenSpeed Press, $29.99


“This is the pasta bible, written in the most beautiful way. Everyone needs a copy of this book on their shelf.” Jamie Oliver, chef and cooking personality

Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes, Colby and Megan Garrelts
Don’t miss recipe: Grilled garlic-thyme Kansas City Strips
American chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts are fixtures on the Kansas City culinary scene thanks to their award-winning restaurants Bluestem and Rye. For those who are unable to visit their enticing eateries, Made In America will more than suffice! Featuring more than fifty unique, family-honed recipes, this cookbook covers Americana and South-western food. Home-cooks are inspired to delve into a world of biscuits and gravy, corn fritters, quick pickles, grilled garlic-thyme Kansas City strips and lemon meringue pie. Each recipe is lovingly described and annotated, with the Garrelts' also discussing their personal reasons for including certain items - a carefully crafted cookbook. 

Publisher: Andrews McMeel, $21.99


"Megan looks at 'Made in America' as not only a collection of heirloom recipes to hand down to their children... but also as a collection of family stories." Feast Magazine, online

With so many tantalising culinary options available to modern home-chefs, there's no better time to broaden your horizons and investigate the many pleasures of international cuisine. Bon appétit!

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