Recipes for Learning

In this extraordinary time, with people shuttered in their homes instead of traveling, books can serve as windows into regions and cultures we can’t visit physically. That’s exactly what a new wave of cookbooks accomplishes, as publishers are looking to create works that are more than just collections of recipes.

New cookbooks offer more than just meal prep

In this extraordinary time, with people shuttered in their homes instead of traveling, books can serve as windows into regions and cultures we can’t visit physically. That’s exactly what a new wave of cookbooks accomplishes, as publishers are looking to create works that are more than just collections of recipes.

Several new cookbooks being published this year supplement the traditional how-to advice for preparing dishes with personal stories, anecdotes, and historical or cultural information — creating rich resources that connect readers with foods and the people who consume them in a highly personal manner.

“If you just want a recipe, you can Google it,” explains Leyla Moushabeck, cookbook editor for Interlink Publishing.

This thinking underlies many of the books about food and wine coming out this year. These works come at an opportune time, because people stuck at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic are hungry for a glimpse into the larger world they’re missing right now.

They’re also in need of practical advice on how to prepare healthy, savory meals with ingredients they might have in their kitchen at the moment, because shopping isn’t very convenient — and many new releases deliver on this premise as well. Here’s a look at what’s simmering now in the world of food-related publishing.

Sterling Publishing

Sterling Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, produces many types of nonfiction, including cookbooks. “People know us best for our cookbooks that focus on health and wellness,” says Executive Editor Jennifer Williams. “We’re looking for authors who know their stuff inside and out.”

One author who certainly fits that description is Kevin Zraly, widely described as America’s foremost wine expert. During the 40-year run of Zraly’s renowned Windows on the World Wine School course in New York City, he has taught more than 20,000 students how to enjoy wine.

This fall, Sterling is publishing the 35th edition of Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: Revised & Updated, October 2020, ISBN 9781454942177, which replicates his course in book form. Readers get key information about various wine-growing regions and varieties, as well as suggested vintners, food pairings, and advice on how to develop one’s palette.

“This book appeals to a broad range of readers– there’s something to be
learned by everyone, regardless of your level of experience.”

Jennifer Williams, executive editor, Sterling Publishing

New to this 35th edition is a special section called “Witness to the Wine and Food Revolution,” in which Zraly reflects on his 50 years as a wine and food expert in the United States and how our taste has changed during this time. The section also includes a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to be one of America’s first sommeliers and how he landed the plum job as a 25-year-old wine salesman with limited experience.

Zraly’s goal is to demystify wine and make it accessible for novices and veterans alike. “He’s really good at letting people know about the best wines they can enjoy for under $30 a bottle,” Williams says.

Readers can also learn from Vegan on a Budget: 125 Healthy, Wallet-Friendly, Plant-Based Recipes, by Nava Atlas, September 2020, ISBN 9781454936978. Atlas has written numerous books on vegan cooking and is well-known in the community. Her latest book shows how eating healthy, plant-based meals doesn’t have to break the bank — and she explains where readers can find these ingredients in the grocery store and online. With meat supplies disrupted by the global pandemic and many families facing economic uncertainty, this is another book that’s
especially timely.

In keeping with the plant-based theme, Sterling is launching a new series of cookbooks this year, The Plant-Based Kitchen. The first book in the series is The Oat Milk Cookbook: More Than 100 Delicious, Dairy-Free Vegan Recipes, by Kim Lutz, June 2020, ISBN 9781454938187. Lutz is an established author who created the allergy-friendly website
Kim’s Welcoming Kitchen and writes a column for Gluten Free & More magazine.

The Oat Milk Cookbook includes a wide array of easy-to-make dishes and desserts using oat milk, a vegan alternative to cow’s milk that is naturally free of lactose, soy, and nuts — ideal for anyone with dietary restrictions, allergies, or digestive problems.

Finally, Instant Pot® Kosher, by Paula Shoyer, February 2021, ISBN 9781454937531, is the first cookbook with recipes for kosher meals that can be prepared with the Instant Pot ® cooker. Shoyer, a French-trained pastry chef, is also an expert on kosher cooking and is the author of The Healthy Jewish Kitchen, among other books.

“She always brings an international spin to her cookbooks,” Williams says. “She finds interesting kosher textures and flavors from a variety of cuisines around the world. And the Instant Pot® is perfect for kosher cooking, with its history of stews, soups, and other foods that have to be cooked over a long period and kept warm.”


Interlink Publishing

Although Interlink Publishing has produced cookbooks since its founding in 1987, these works have become a significant portion of the company’s business over the last 10 years, Moushabeck says. The Northampton, Massachusetts-based independent publisher brings out seven or eight new cookbook titles
per year.

As its name suggests, Interlink’s ethos is about connecting readers to people, cultures, and ideas from around the world. Its cookbooks feature international cuisines and are written by local authors who grew up in that area. The books include stories and photos that immerse readers in the food and culture of each region.

A prime example is Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea, by Marianna Leivaditaki, photography by Elena Heatherwick, September 2020, ISBN 9781623718749. The author grew up working in her family’s restaurant in Crete and went on to become head chef of the London restaurant Morito.

Leivaditaki’s recipes celebrate her Mediterranean heritage, with fresh, seasonal ingredients creating delicious dishes meant to be shared with friends and family. Much more than a cookbook, Aegean is a loving tribute to a place and its cuisine that holds great meaning to Leivaditaki. “She’s quite the storyteller,” Moushabeck says. “She gives you a very intimate look into what life was like growing up in Crete.”

Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi, October 2020, ISBN 9781623718756, features authentic Afghan recipes interwoven with a compelling family narrative. The author’s family fled Afghanistan in 1987, during the height of the Cold War. They settled in Australia and created a family-run restaurant serving dishes from the country they left behind.

"Our cookbooks double as cultural guides We look to publish cookbooks
that you could read in your bedroom as easily as your kitchen.”

Leyla Moushabeck, cookbook editor, Interlink Publishing

The 100-odd recipes highlighted in the book have been in the author’s family for generations and include rice dishes, curries, meats, dumplings, Afghan pastas, sweets, pickles, soups, and breads. But readers will also be moved by Ayubi’s personal account of the political turmoil in Afghanistan, her family’s struggles, and how food connects her with her family and her homeland in very powerful ways.

Venetian Republic: Recipes from the Veneto, Adriatic Croatia, and the Greek Islands by Nino Zoccali, Fall 2020, ISBN 9781623719432, charts the history of a very diverse geographical region connected by common ingredients in their food. The author, an Italian chef whose spouse is Greek, takes readers on a culinary journey through the four key regions that comprised the Venetian Republic. The 80 recipes featured in the book are accompanied by stunning photography of Mediterranean locales.

In Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania, Fall 2020, ISBN 9781623719548, author Irina Georgescu has written the first book to celebrate Romania’s culinary heritage. Romanian cuisine has many influences, with Greek, Turkish, Austrian, and Hungarian elements. Georgescu, a food blogger from Romania, explores these influences and shares recipes inspired by her mother. “Her writing is very warm and personal,” Moushabeck says, “and the recipes are very adaptable because they focus on home cooking.”

Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet: Plant-Based, Zero-Waste, Climate Cuisine, Fall 2020, ISBN 9781623719531, isn’t a cultural guide but rather a practical roadmap for eating in an environmentally friendly way. Its author, Tom Hunt, is an award-winning chef and writer in the U.K. whose mission is to reduce food waste.

“Tom’s book is very timely,” Moushabeck observes. “He writes about adapting to what you have available to avoid wasting food. This advice is very much in line with how people are trying to cook today [amid the global pandemic], because they can’t just pop out to the store and buy a few ingredients.”

World Trade Press

World Trade Press, a publisher of digital databases, is best known for its flagship product, Global Road Warrior, a comprehensive database of cultural and historical information on 174 countries. Global Road Warrior includes a short section on each country’s culinary traditions, along with a handful of local recipes. When company executives learned this was the resource’s most popular section, they decided to create a collection devoted entirely to foods from around the world.

The result was A to Z World Food (, which includes more than 7,000 recipes from 174 countries — as well as more than 900 articles on international food culture, 540 articles on ingredients from around the world, and 100 instructional cooking videos.

A to Z Food America is a truly unique resource. It includes traditional cuisine cookbooks for all 50 states, six regions, and 33 major ethnic groups, as well as more than 100 “how-to” videos on food preparation. Also included are 90 historic cookbooks dating back to the late 1700s; 1,200 articles on national and regional cuisine, dining etiquette, and food for special occasions; vintage magazine ads, TV commercials, food labels, and other historical information. Based on the success of A to Z World Food, World Trade Press introduced A to Z Food America ( last year, which “does for every state and region in America what World Food did for every country in the world,” says Sales Manager Adam Weis.

Both databases are updated continually by a team of 120 freelance writers from the United States and around the world. The ingredients in the recipes are hyperlinked to articles that contain information about nutrition, origins, and other details. The content adapts to the size of a user’s screen, so it’s easy to view on a tablet or smart phone. Users even have the ability to mark off the steps they have taken while following a recipe, so they don’t lose their place. “That’s definitely a feature that has resonated well,” Weis says.

Libraries that subscribe to the databases get unlimited access for all patrons, meaning there’s no limit to the number of users who can access them at the same time. For patrons who can’t physically visit their library and check out books, these digital databases provide remote access to a wide range of culinary information.

Broader context

These new books and digital resources are more than merely collections of recipes — they seek to instruct and entertain users by putting food and wine in a broader context. “There’s no better way to learn about a culture than to examine what they eat and share with their families,” Weis concludes.




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