With coronavirus making travel a tricky and even potentially dangerous prospect this year, we’re embracing the summer staycation via transportive flavors and travel-inspired ideas from around the world. Here, some of our favorite travel cookbooks for international cuisine of all kinds.
Wanderlust might be the ultimate secret ingredient to great cooking at home. The urge to see the world and taste its many offerings inspires you to explore colorful spice markets, sample curious delicacies, and spend time cooking with locals on every trip. It’s invigorating.
That exploration of global food doesn’t have to end when you’re at home, though. Travel cookbooks capture the spirit of globetrotting through arresting images, engaging stories, and, of course, damn delicious recipes. They give you the flavors and textures of faraway lands—no long-haul flights required.
Which is a good thing right now, since we’re all staying home.
Related Reading: 8 Great International Cooking Classes You Can Take Online
Ready to be transported despite being fixed in one place? Cook your way around the world with 11 of the best travel cookbooks.
These are also the perfect gift to give your favorite world traveler for when they’re in between trips.
“The Saltwater Table: Recipes from the Coastal South” by Whitney Otawka, $26.49 on Amazon
Grab a seat at the table of America’s coastal south with Whitney Otawka as your host. The award-winning chef of Georgia’s renowned Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island has put together a travel cookbook with 125 recipes arranged by the seasonal calendar of five coastal ingredients and flavors: oysters, vegetables, shrimp, heat, and smoke & cedar. Photographs in this tempting tome pop off the page, showcasing colorful dishes and the rugged scenery of Cumberland Island. But the real treat is Otawka’s heartfelt blurbs, offering the inside scoop on life in the Southeast coast region.Buy Now
“Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking” by Masaharu Morimoto, $40.99 on Amazon
Whether you want to learn how to hand roll sushi, fry a perfectly crispy tempura, or whip up a teriyaki sauce from scratch, there’s no better teacher than the “Iron Chef” himself, Masaharu Morimoto. His travel cookbook, “Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking,” makes Japanese cuisine approachable for even the most novice home chefs through deceptively simple recipes. No need to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun for obscure ingredients—Morimoto offers thoughtful substitutions you can find at your local grocery store.Buy Now
“Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey, $37.50 on Amazon
James Beard award-winning author Madhur Jaffrey reveals the magic of plant-based Indian cuisine in her 2015 travel cookbook, “Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking.” The beloved title captures the full range of cuisine from the subcontinent in over 400 pages of flavor-packed recipes, from Goan black-eyed peas with coconut to Punjabi-style okra masala. These are dishes you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again.Buy Now
“Let’s Eat France!” by François-Régis Gaudry, $30.49 on Amazon
As detailed as an encyclopedia and captivating as your favorite guidebook, “Let’s Eat France!” celebrates modern French cuisine. Reading the nearly six-pound travel cookbook feels like a treasure hunt, each page filled with surprising illustrations, maps, travel tips, charts, lists, and recipes—all infused with Gaudry’s charming personality. If this doesn’t make you want to book a foodie adventure to France, we’re not sure what will.Buy Now
“The Nordic Cookbook” by Magnus Nilsson, $44.95 on Amazon
Author and acclaimed chef Magnus Nilsson knows a thing or two about Nordic cuisine. He traveled extensively to collect the history, recipes, and cooking techniques of the region for “The Nordic Cookbook.” The hefty, magnificent read includes more than 700 recipes for dishes like meatballs and lingonberry jam, rose-hip soup, Finnish salmon pie, and wort bread (a traditional Christmas bread from Sweden). The book breathes the atmosphere of the destinations and dishes into each chapter with stunning full-page photos of landscapes and foods.Buy Now
“Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen” by Yasmin Khan, $26.95 on Amazon
“Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen” is more than a travel cookbook—it’s a “culinary anthropology” that sheds light on a side of the conflicted region you rarely see in other media. Author Yasmin Khan showcases cuisine from three distinct areas—the West Bank, Galilee, and the Gaza Strip—in a collection of more than 80 recipes. But while recipes for dishes like pomegranate passion cake and eggplant-feta kefte deliver sensory delights, it’s Khan’s illuminating storytelling that will fill your soul.Buy Now
“The World’s Best Street Food: Where to Find It and How to Make It” by Lonely Planet Food, $14.99 on Amazon
Lonely Planet has aided the far-flung journeys of jet-setters for more than 40 years. Now, it brings that same sense of adventure to travelers’ home kitchens with its pocket-size travel cookbook of street food recipes from around the world. Readers will learn how to make German currywurst, Belizean garnaches, Indian kati rolls, South African bunny chow, and 96 other tantalizing foods. Plus, the book details the origins of each recipe and provides tasting notes to make each dish even more authentic.Buy Now
“The Essential Cuisines of Mexico” by Diana Kennedy, $21.95 on Amazon
When it comes to travel cookbooks, few others give you as much bang for your buck as “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico.” It combines three of legendary cookbook author Diana Kennedy’s bestselling titles into one 544-page tome—the bible of traditional Mexican cuisine. If you want to learn the art of mole, or simply how to make a zesty pico de gallo, this celebrated travel cookbook will teach you everything you need to know and more.Buy Now
“Alpine Cooking: Recipes and Stories from Europe’s Grand Mountaintops” by Meredith Erickson, $31.01 on Amazon
Even if alpine ski trips are off the table, the hearty food of Europe’s mountain regions doesn’t have to be—and it’s not all sausages and melted cheese (though both do factor in, and we got the Swiss fondue recipe from the book). Find cozy and elegant dishes from France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria, and prepare to be transported not only by the food, but by the travelogue-style interludes and lush photography of the landscape, hotels, resorts, and inns. This is one to curl up with for sure.Buy Now
“Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand” by Andy Ricker with JJ Goode, $17.03 on Amazon
This gorgeously photographed tour through Thailand will not only provide you with impeccable recipes (from Pok Pok’s famous fish sauce wings to grilled corn with salty coconut cream—like a Thai take on elote—plus all your favorite Thai restaurant staples in their platonic form), it will give you a deeper understanding of the country’s food traditions. And, of course, it’ll make you feel like you’re strolling through a morning market in Bangkok or visiting a northern village, simultaneously stoking and vicariously slaking your wanderlust. On a more practical level, it also gives pairing suggestions for every recipe so you can build an entire Thai feast. (Check out our guide to Thai food for more of our favorite Thai cookbooks.)Buy Now
“Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen” by Adeena Sussman, $16.27 on Amazon
This book highlights the border-blurring ingredients that give Israeli food such verve—think sumac, za’atar, harissa, tahini, zhug—and captures the energy of living and cooking in a place with such a vibrant market scene. Making the inspired, modern recipes (like Preserved Lemon-Date Tuna Salad, Creamy Green Shakshuka with Crispy Latkes, Super Nutty Avocado Tabbouleh, and Fig and Yogurt Pops with Tahini Magic Shell) is the next best thing to booking a plane ticket.Buy Now
The original version of this story was written by Joni Sweet. It has been updated with additional entries by Chowhound Editors.
Header image courtesy of Amazon