In the first six months of this year we've already seen an abundance of fantastic cookbooks and food writing, but we narrowed it down to 20 favorites for our list of the best of 2019 so far. Our number one pick is Ruth Reichl's Save Me the Plums, a fascinating account of Reichl's life and time as editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.
Besides Save Me the Plums, our list this year has an unusually high number of spots occupied by stories of the culinary world, including Notes from a Young Black Chef by the winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Kwame Onwuachi. 2019 is shaping up to be the year of great food writing, with more to come this fall.
The cookbooks on our top 20 list cover cuisines from around the globe, including Palestine, Mexico City, and the Black Sea. The list also includes the latest from seasoned authors (Mark Bittman, José Andrés) side-by-side with new faces in cookbooks. So many great dishes await...
Below are the first five books on our best of 2019 so far list, and you can see all twenty here.
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
Save Me the Plums is not only our number one for cookbooks and food writing, but it's also on our list for the overall top 10 best books of 2019 so far. Reichl is candid, funny, and welcomes readers into a pivotal time in her life as if she's someone you've known for years. This is a book many of us read in one sitting.
Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan
Okay, so let's just start with this incredibly gorgeous cover. A beautiful beginning sets the tone, and Yasmin Khan does not disappoint when it comes to the interior. 80 recipes from modern Palestine introduce home cooks to the foods you'll find across the varied region. Definitely a special cookbook for the shelf.
Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook by Jose Andres
Chef José Andrés really goes all out in this vegetable cookbook and his passion for fruits and vegetables is infectious. Andrés's recipes detail both the magic of a simple ingredient with minimal preparation, and also the endless possibilities of plant based dishes. Andrés includes chapters for each season and doesn't limit himself to the usual farmer's market fare. If there's one cookbook that will get us embracing veggies (including "the salad of the sea") at home, this is the one to do it.
Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul by Lazarus Lynch
Cookbook newcomer Lazarus Lynch has created a tome with as much bright, fun, personality as the man himself. The photos are wildly creative, and Lynch's food mouth-watering. Every recipe I've made from Son of a Southern Chef has been delicious and one I will put on repeat. Lynch got his passion for cooking from his father and he shares his introduction to the kitchen and his style, fusing southern and Caribbean cuisine, throughout the book. Son of a Southern Chef is not a cookbook that will take up space on your shelf because it will be on the counter, splattered with food and sauce, making you happy. *Check back next week for a recipe and an exclusive piece from Lynch on the Amazon Book Review.
Another cookbook debut we love is The Prairie Homestead Cookbook, from popular blogger Jill Winger. Winger's book includes 100+ recipes for creating beloved comfort foods using whole ingredients. You won't need to hunt down anything special for Winger's dishes, but they will absolutely taste special. Winger also includes a treasure trove of tips, stories, and know-how, for those wanting to incorporate a bit (or a lot) of homesteader lifestyle into their world. Regardless of whether you grow your own or hit your local produce aisle, Winger's focus is on making good food that feeds the soul.
Looking for more? You might also like:
- Ruth Reichl on "Save Me the Plums"
- Recipe Road Test: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup from "The Prairie Homestead Cookbook"
- Other posts on Eating + Drinking
- Best Cookbooks of the Month
- Best Cookbooks of 2019 so far
Sign up for the Amazon Book Review: Best books of the month * author interviews * the reading life * and more