To make my list, at least one of the following must be true:
The writing is so good as to be considered fine literature, even better if the author is quirky, opinionated, witty. (Thank you, Elizabeth David, for living to cook and write.) I’m as likely to settle in for a good read as I am to try out the recipes.
The writer has steeped herself/himself in a region’s culture and traditions.
It’s about Italy and/or Italian food.
There’s something extra between the pages, like Simply in Season’s sweet, wise quotations from the Mennonite literature. Or the book design and layout are a work of art, like Pure & Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine.
Leave your own favorites in the comments!
The Art of Italian Cooking:
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan
Italian Food, by Elizabeth David
The Heart of Sicily: Recipes and Reminiscences of Regaleali, by Anna Tasca Lanza
La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio, by Danda & Giovanna Tornabene, with Michele Evans
The Sicilian Gentleman’s Cookbook, by Don Baratta (Recommended by a Sicilian gentleman I know who happens to be a great cook. The recipes from this book are outstanding. I’ve tasted them.)
Sweet Sicily, by Victoria Granof
Pomp & Sustenance: Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, by Mary Taylor Semeti
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
French Provincial Cooking, by Elizabeth David
French Country Cooking, by Elizabeth David
French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano
French Women For All Seasons, by Mireille Guiliano
Pure & Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, by Vidhu Mittal
Mediterranean Food, by Elizabeth David
In the Green Kitchen, by Alice Waters
Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers, by Janet Fletcher
The Moosewood Cookbook
The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
Cook This Now, Melissa Clark
How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman
The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer
Elizabeth David’s Christmas
Simply in Season, by Mary Beth Lind & Cathleen Hockman-Wert
Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything, by Mary Clemens Meyer & Susanna Meyer
Summer Cooking, by Elizabeth David