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Many of the foods consumed in America aren’t really American at all. They arrived here on recipe cards with immigrants who traveled far and wide to make a new life in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a profound story, some new recipes, or a history lesson on how some of your favorite foods came to be, this list has got it all.
Love fiction food novels? Check out 10 cozy novels featuring food and authors from around the world>>
Mango and Peppercorns by Tung Nguyen
The year was 1975 and Tung Nguyen had just arrived in Miami. As a pregnant refugee barely escaping Saigon, she was forced to start from square one after setting foot onto American soil. When she ended up living with Kathy Manning, a waitress who welcomed displaced refugees from Vietnam, Tung had no idea that this would turn into a lifelong friendship. They bonded over their love of cuisine and created a successful restaurant that has received countless accolades. Their signature dish, mango and peppercorns, is a tasty reminder of the magic that can happen when people create together.
The Kitchen without Borders by The Eat Offbeat Chefs
This is more than just a cookbook; it’s a storybook that takes an in-depth look at how many of the delicious dishes that we consume actually came to be. Every chef featured in this book is a member of Eat Offbeat, which is a catering company staffed solely by refugees and immigrants. Featuring foods from all around the world, including Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and much more, this eclectic collection of mouth-watering recipes will leave you not only wanting more but wanting to know more. Photos and profiles of the chefs provide just that, giving you a behind-the-scenes look into their journeys.
Sweet Greeks by Ann Flesor Beck
Gus Flesor left his homeland of Greece in 1901 and landed in Tuscola, Illinois to make a fresh start. Shortly after arriving, he learned the confectioner’s trade and opened up his very own candy store that still stands to this day. His kitchen was filled with delicious treats, inviting smells, and family members making frequent visits. More than just a sweet shop, this was an American dream coming to life, proving to everyone, but most of all himself, that he could be a success on American soil. This memoir takes you through an experience of immigration and the importance of family, sprinkled in with sweet success.
What We Hunger For by Sun Yung Shin
In many cases, food is what brings people together. Whether it’s in a restaurant, at a celebration, or sitting down for a family meal, it means sharing stories about ourselves with others. This book takes a poignant look at fourteen people from immigrant or refugee families and their unique stories about the role that food plays in their lives. Whether it’s keeping traditions alive through creations in the kitchen or reminiscing about the comfort foods and flavors from home, this group of storytellers paints a beautiful picture of how the human connection to food is alive in everyone, regardless of race.
Jikoni by Ravinder Bhogal
Even though Ravinder moved to London when she was a child, being born in Kenya to Indian parents gave her a foundation for a flavorful palate. As she was growing up, she began experimenting in the kitchen with unlikely combinations that were both outrageous and irresistible. Allowing her playfulness to carry over onto the plate, she coins her approach as “proudly inauthentic recipes from an immigrant kitchen.” Now a successful restaurateur and an inspiration to immigrants from all over the world, Ravinder continues to celebrate the combination of cultures in her delectable cuisine.
In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan
The people of Africa refer to their grandmothers as bibis, and many of them have delightful stories to tell about traditional foods from their nations. These eight countries are responsible for the world’s spice trade, and the women interviewed for this book take much pride in not only using the spices properly but educating others on how to keep authenticity in the dish. This heartwarming book brings those females together to share powerful behind-the-scenes looks at how the recipes came to be and the meaning behind the meals.
Coconut & Sambal by Lara Lee
Lara Lee felt that something was missing when it came to international cuisine. She found that her homeland of Indonesia had little representation and she wanted to change that. This book offers one-of-a-kind recipes that are both dynamic and delicious. She reveals secrets on how to make even the simplest dish stand out, with just a splash of spice and a dash of chili. Her techniques are easy to follow with ingredients that are not hard to find, making the island life a little more accessible to anyone who wants to try something new.
We Are La Cocina by Caleb Zigas & Leticia Landa
This book is filled to the brim with great global recipes that represent multiple cultures. Beyond being a beautiful cookbook, We Are La Cocina captures intimate stories of successful entrepreneurs that started with a dream, and through hard work made it come true. Additionally, it includes over 200 pictures that were captured by award-winning photographer Eric Wolfinger, allowing the reader to gain a more robust understanding of the immigrant experience. This is the ultimate book for delivering diversity and inspiration, along with ideas for making your next meal something that is out of this world.
Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho
As the daughter of a white American marine and a Korean bar hostess, her xenophobic small town made it particularly challenging for Grace Cho to fit in. On top of that, at just fifteen years old, Grace’s mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which presented an entirely new set of struggles. As the years grew harder, Grace began making meals that resembled her mother’s childhood, to connect culturally. Through every dish that was created and conversation that was had, Grace learned how to savor every moment with her mother and embrace the past to become fully present.
The Immigrant Cookbook by Leyla Moushabeck
With over 42 million people living in America that have arrived from other countries, it only makes sense that there would also be a melting pot of many mouth-watering foods. Immigrants are responsible for so many of the delicious delicacies that are enjoyed daily in the United States, like sushi, strudel, or hummus, just to name a few. This gorgeous coffee table book celebrates multiple cultures and the countless culinary creations that have been brought over from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and many more areas of the world.