October's best cookbooks

Seira Wilson on October 22, 2019
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October is a cookbook lover's dream month, and I've been hungry pretty much all the time over the past few weeks combing through them all. These cookbooks cover a wide variety of cuisines and techniques, from the deceptively simple to utterly extravagant and everything in between.

Spicy Sichuan and beautiful breads, Southern home cooking, and dishes inspired by the likes of Mad Men's Don Draper. I'm inspired. To say the least. Below is a sample of what the gems you'll find on this month's list of the best in cookbooks and food writing.



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South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations by Sean Brock

In his first cookbook, Heritage, Sean Brock inspired home cooks to think differently about Southern cuisine and how to prepare it home. Brock goes one step further in his new cookbook, South, by highlighting the regional diversity that adds depth and originality to Southern cooking. Lowcountry, Appalachia, the Gulf Coast--you'll find shrimp and grits in all three regions, but each will do it their own way.  Brock pays homage to the backbones of Southern food with 125 inspired recipes and plenty of simple wisdom.  In the introduction where he talks about how to use this cookbook, Brock says, "Shop first and pick a recipe second. Buy what looks delicious and inspiring at the market and go from there."  It's worth waiting for what's fresh and flavorful, and it's been worth the wait for South.



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JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

One of two memoirs on this month's list, JGV reads like Jean-Georges Vongerichten is sitting next to you at the kitchen table, telling stories about his childhood in Alsace, the knowledge he gathered working under Michelin-starred chefs, and how it all played into crafting his own menus and building a restaurant empire.  Even the twelve recipes in the book, each of them symbolic in this world-famous chef's journey, are written as if being spoken aloud, making even the most daunting of them seem accessible. I've been recommending JGV to not only foodies but readers who love a good memoir.

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Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows by Andrew Rea

The cooking show that's taken YouTube by storm now has a cookbook.  On his show, Binging with Babbish, Andrew Rea makes dishes inspired by movies and TV shows, and viewers LOVE IT.  The first recipe in Binging with Babbish is the Traeger Turkey Burger, inspired by Parks and Recreation. To make this burger you will first need to make the recipes for Papaya Chutney, Black Truffle Aioli, and Cheese Crisps. I tell you this not to scare anyone off, but rather to convey that these are not recipes that stand on whimsy--Rea takes cooking seriously and he works hard to get it right. Rea also has a great narrative style, making this cookbook just straight-up fun to read.

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The Food of Sichuan by Fuchsia Dunlop

For almost twenty years Fuchsia Dunlap's, Land of Plenty, has been the gold standard of Sichuan cuisine cookbooks. This month Dunlap gives us Land of Plenty 2.0, now titled The Food of Sichuan. For all intents and purposes this is a new cookbook. Dunlap retested and revised all of the original recipes based on what she's learned over the eighteen years since they were first published, and she's added 70 completely new recipes.  I expect The Food of Sichuan to bring the techniques and complex flavors of this cuisine to a new generation of home cooks and warm the hearts--and mouths--of her existing devotees.

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Ama: A Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen by Josef Centeno

Probably the most familiar of fusions, Texan meets Mexican is a match made in heaven.  Chef and restauratuer Josef Centeno honors his heritage and the food inextricibly woven into the fabric of his memories, with a cookbook named for the restaurant he named for his grandmother: Ama. Alongside the beautiful photography in Ama you'll find Centeno's mom's green chile enchiladas alongside Centeno's own creations such as fideo with octopus, and vegan cashew queso.  And don't get me started on the chapter for devotees of the glorious nacho...

>See the full list of the best cookbooks of October


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