Food Journeys | Three Books of Culinary Locales

Cookbooks do more than help readers make good food; they can also evoke place and time, transporting readers across landscapes.

Cookbooks do more than help readers make good food, they can also evoke place and time, transporting readers across landscapes.

Alikhani, Nasim. Sofreh: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Persian Cuisine. Knopf. Jun. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780593320747. $40. COOKING

The first cookbook from Alikhani (cowritten by Theresa Gambacorta), a companion to her Brooklyn restaurant Sofreh, features contemporary homemade Persian cuisine. Fans of Alikhani will enjoy the introduction, pantry and recipe information, and cooking notes that give a glimpse into the Sofreh philosophy. The book’s stark, modern design also reflects the organic design from inside the restaurant and gives the collection a clean feel. Recipes are true to the restaurant and follow Alikhani’s belief in homemade cooking, so home cooks will find few shortcuts while learning a wide variety of skills like making naan and yogurt. The Persian tradition of poetry is also sprinkled throughout the book and lends warmth and whimsy. The book concludes with a beautiful photo spread of Persia that anchors Alikhani’s inspiration. Recommended for those who want to bring a little bit of Sofreh into their home kitchen through stories and recipes. VERDICT Fans of the restaurant will enjoy learning about Alikhani’s personal journey from home cook in Iran to restauranteur in New York City and will delight in bringing her philosophy home with her authentic recipes.—Sarah Tansley

Fong, Stacey Mei Yan. 50 Pies, 50 States: An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the United States Through Pie. Voracious. Jun. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780316394512. $35. COOKING

After immigrating to the U.S., Fong embarked on a project to celebrate her new home and connect with others, baking pies to represent each state and documenting her progress online, where it garnered media attention. Turning the project into a cookbook, she has also added pies that characterize Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, where she grew up. There’s honey peach pie for Savannah, representing her college experience, and a scallion bagel pie for Brooklyn, where she now lives. Following those, in alphabetical order, there’s a pie for each state, with information about the state and an explanation of how the recipe suits it. This is an interesting mix of sweet and savory recipes, some never before seen, such as artichoke pie for California, snickerdoodle pie for Connecticut, and a Boston cream as a pie not a cake. Standard crust recipes are given and assigned to the pies, and the index is arranged so readers can find pies by type, title, or geography. VERDICT Whether one bakes from it or merely reads it, Fong’s cookbook debut is a treat and a worthy addition to cooking collections.—Danise Hoover

Setareh, Saghar. Pomegranates and Artichokes: A Food Journey from Iran to Italy. Interlink. Jun. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781623717407. $35. COOKING

Setareh, who runs the blog Lab Noon and teaches cooking across Italy, moved from Iran to Italy when she was a student. In her debut book, she considers the way food migrates, as she did, and what those migrations mean, culturally and historically. She begins in Iran, with an introduction that places readers into its vast and fragrant landscape, offering an explicated pantry and three recipes of note: golden onion, saffron infusion, and Iranian rice. The recipes that follow cover more dishes, building to an Iranian feast and ending with a section on sweets and drinks. Next are 15 recipes from the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant that connect the first and last chapters together, highlighting how the food of one region flows through and across to another. The last section focuses upon Italy and opens with a story of arrival and barriers. The recipes range across aperitifs, special occasions, and sweets. Setareh offers inviting menus at the end that pull from across the landscape of flavors she explores. VERDICT Rich in images and stories, at once accessible to cooks, and crafted for readers, this is a work to cook from and reflect on. Don’t miss it.—Neal Wyatt

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing