All this home cooking and not traveling has us pining for a taste of our favorite destinations. For me, that means lots of tropical flavors, curries, and, yes, fancy coffee drinks. And while lots of recipes can be found online, there’s something special about bringing a cookbook home from a great trip. In fact, TravelAwaits reader Karen Hubbard from Kent in the UK told us she’s a passionate cook who loves trying new dishes and recreating them at home, and she collects cookbooks from her travels.
We were inspired by this and wanted to know more about the cookbooks well-traveled people love and actually use. Here are 11 favorites that will inspire delicious home-cooked meals for years to come (including two of Karen’s suggestions!).
Obviously, an Italian cookbook belongs on our list, and Sandi Barrett’s recommendation does not disappoint. “I bought this cookbook because of the drink section, is that bad?” she asked. “The lead recipe in the book is for an Aperol Spritz.” (If you haven’t tasted this refreshing beverage, do yourself a favor and get your hands on the ingredients to make it. It is as delicious and sexy as it sounds.)
Sandi told us, “Our first European vacation without our girls was to Italy. We spent two romantic weeks traipsing around the countryside exploring the local food and wine. Every afternoon, we would find a sweet little cafe and have an Aperol Spritz while we planned our evening meal and passeggiata, the quintessentially Italian afterdinner stroll.”
She said, “The cookbook is filled with Italian classics like polenta, risotto, and pasta. My favorite dish is baked goat cheese, fava, and artichoke dip served with a crusty homemade bread. I was drawn to Lidia’s cookbook because we love to entertain and great Italian cuisine is always a crowd favorite.”
Sara Broers of Travel With Sara told us her favorite cookbook is Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life.
“I received this as a gift from Lucy while dining at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, Alabama, which happens to be home to 32 miles of pristine beaches. This cookbook offers good home-cooking recipes that fill your soul. Lucy Buffett — Jimmy Buffett’s sister — owns Lulu’s Gulf Shores, and she serves up some great food, including gumbo and bread pudding.”
Kelly Hayes-Raitt, a full-time international house sitter and founder of Jump Start Your Book, told us her favorite cookbook, Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World, is actually an anthology of travel essays with recipes included to enhance the writers’ stories about their destinations.
“The essays were compiled by Rita Golden-Gelman, who, in her 40s, sold all her stuff to travel the world full-time — which she did for more than 30 years!” Kelly said. “Her memoir Tales of a Female Nomad inspired the essay and recipe contributors of Female Nomad and Friends to share their experiences, whether hilarious or heartbreaking or everything in-between.”
Kelly is especially fond of the book’s chiles en nogada recipe, but know that you’ll find inspiration from all around the world in this unique read.