Book Club

Travel the world from your kitchen: 6 cookbooks to read in quarantine

Magnus Nilsson's 'The Nordic Cookbook' is displayed to a recipe on a table outside

Recipe books have become an outlet for escape while in lockdown Image: Kaya Bulbul

Kaya Bülbül
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With the world in lockdown, and people turning to home cooking, recipe books have become a means of escape.

The following six picks will not only help you master new dishes, but will have you exploring culinary cultures from across the globe.

1. The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

Packed with beauty and humour, this book is the product of years of research and is a tribute to one of the world’s lesser known cuisines.

Nordic food has been largely ignored by the culinary world. However, as you’ll learn from flipping through the 700 recipes collected by Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson, this region has much to offer.

The Nordic Cookbook
The Nordic Cookbook

Famous for his two Michelin star restaurant Fäviken, as well as appearances on the docuseries “Chefs Table” and "The Mind of a Chef", Nilsson guides the reader through the secrets of Nordic ingredients, history and cooking techniques.

While most of these recipes feature typical supermarket staples, bookmark the rest for after lockdown (unless you happen to have puffin eggs or moose meat on hand).

2. Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America by Maricel Presilla

Who better to provide an in-depth exploration of the vast and varied dishes of the Latin world than cuban author, culinary historian and restaurateur Maricel Presilla.

The author visited over 30 countries to collect more than 500 recipes and combine them with detailed notes on their preparation and service.

Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America
Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America

Presilla's fifth book, Gran Cocina Latina was named Cookbook of the Year in 2013.

3. The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon

It cannot be easy to capture the culinary culture of such a large and diverse continent as Asia into a single book. However Charmaine Solomon has accomplished just that.

First published in 1976, The Complete Asian Cookbook became an instant classic and in the 40 years since, has sold millions of copies, been translated into 5 languages and is now recognised as one of Australia's most influential cookbooks.

The Complete Asian Cookbook
The Complete Asian Cookbook

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Charmaine Solomon has become known as the Queen of Asian cooking in Australia. Her massive collection of over 800 recipes from 16 Asian countries are clearly presented with step-by-step instructions making it easy for even the most inexperienced cook to follow.

4. South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations by Sean Brock

There’s more to the cuisine of the American South than just fried chicken. Through the recipes of more than 125 classic dishes, chef Sean Brock demonstrates the varied cuisine of a region that’s sometimes overlooked.

Recipes are complemented by Brock’s thoughtful explorations, including personal stories, southern cooking tips and the historical details of one of America’s richest culinary scenes.

South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations
South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations

Brock was featured in the Emmy-winning show "The Mind of a Chef", and won a James Beard Award for American Cooking in 2015.

5. The Turkish Cookbook - Musa Dagdeviren

Poised between two continents, Turkey’s rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes make it home to a vast array of delicious traditional dishes. Turkish food has been made famous across the globe, but with over 550 recipes this book will transport your senses far beyond your local Kebab joint.

Chef and culinary historian Musa Dagdeviren has explored every corner of his native country, challenging modernisation by unearthing and reviving forgotten culinary cultures.

The Turkish Cookbook
The Turkish Cookbook

Each recipe is accompanied by information on its origins. All traditions are embraced, and many surprising dishes are found nestled amongst beloved classics such as baklava and köfte.

6. The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson

Ethiopian-born Marcus Samuelsson was raised in Sweden by adoptive parents and later moved to New York where he’s run a number of award-winning restaurants, starred in TV shows and even cooked for Barack Obama.

Winning the James Beard “Best International Cookbook” prize in 2007, The Soul of a New Cuisine explores African food and its history. Samuelsson brings these exciting recipes to life through stunning photography and anecdotes that document his journeys across the continent.

The Soul of a New Cuisine
The Soul of a New Cuisine

While efforts were made to ensure a balanced geographic spread, this list is by no means exhaustive. Join the World Economic Forum Book Club and let us know what your favourite cookbooks are!


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