With the last days of summer still ahead of us and the heat sticking to our backs, you might think grilling, grilling, and grilling are your only options for dinner. But picking at grilled chicken while scrolling through everyone else’s vacation photos is a straight path to lunacy.
So put down the grill tongs, step away from the envy, and have yourself a deliciously rollicking staycation, where you can be eating salsa-dipped chorizo and potato sandwiches in Mexico one day and Streuselkuchen in Germany the next.
6 Cookbooks That Will Give You a Cheap Vacation
With these six new cookbooks tucked under your arm, you can cook your way past the wanderlust and into a deeper experience of the ingredients and techniques of these must-travel destinations. Bonus: Your Instagram feed will inspire just as much envy as that beach pic your friend just posted.
1. Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand by Leela Punyaratabandhu, $35
Bangkok is one of the top-ranked travel destinations in the world, and this book will slip you into the busy city and take you on the food tour of a lifetime. The beautiful photography captures a busy city — a monk looking out the window of a commuter boat, hands turning skewers of grilled meat at a market stall — but leaves out the over 16 million tourists that crowd the city each year.
Opt out of the tourist herd and opt in to a staycation with Punyaratabandhu, who will guide you through the essential and the innovative recipes and show you the pleasures of sourcing and cooking Thai ingredients every day, instead of just vacation-binging on them.
2. Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo Guzmán and Stacy Adimando, $30
Admit it: You may be in a taco rut. But you don’t have to save the diverse miracles of Mexican food for nights out — Nopalito will usher you into a kitchen in Mexico, where anyone can master the fundamentals and extract them into unexpected and delicious weeknight dinners.
Let this gorgeous book pull you into the food and culture of Mexico, then walk determinedly into your kitchen and make those salsa-dipped chorizo and potato sandwiches.
3. Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan by Naomi Duguid, $35
Not every revered cuisine has a pin-on-the-map destination, and Persian food is one of those. Persia was once the world’s largest, most powerful, and intellectually advanced empire, and although Persians as an ethnic group are now mostly in Iran, it’s a culture and a cuisine that flaunts modern borders.
It’s hard to find a more ancient or humbling culinary tradition than this, and just a few nights eating at the table with Taste of Persia will inspire the same feelings of awe and curiosity that only the world’s greatest wonders can.
4. Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen by Luisa Weiss, $35
Summer gives us the simple luxury of extra time for tinkering, and if you want to plumb the depths of delicate and sophisticated baking, book yourself for a few afternoons in the kitchen with Classic German Baking. It will transport you to a warm German kitchen, where something soothing is always baking and Weiss is happily explaining where it came from and how it was made.
Think of it as the coziest baking class you’ve ever taken, where you can wear your slippers and you don’t have to share the stand mixer or Streuselkuchen with anyone.
5. The Adventures of Fat Rice: Recipes from the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo, and Hugh Amano, $35
Do you know where Macau is? You don’t have to answer that, because this cookbook will take you there no matter how geographically challenged you are. It’s a fascinating look at a cuisine that’s hard to define (think: equal parts European, Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish_.
It’s a trip just to page through the book; it’s half cookbook, half comic book, and fully fun and quirky. So if you want to stretch the bounds of where you can travel within the four walls of your kitchen, immerse yourself in the world of Fat Rice.
6. Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn by Chitra Agrawal, $25
If a yoga retreat someplace exotic isn’t on the calendar this year, bliss out with this cookbook instead. Focused on the traditional cooking of Southern India, sometimes referred to as the “yoga diet,” this cookbook shows you how to cook vegetable-heavy meals that are light and fresh.
You’ll find a rice and lentil hand crepe to eat poolside and a beet yogurt raita to freshen up everything from the grill. Pair the recipes with these six mindfulness techniques for busy weeknight cooking, and you’ll be just as relaxed, rested, and gloriously well-fed as post-vacation you has ever been.
What’s your favorite cookbook that transports you to another place?