10 books to buy for the food & drink lover this holiday season photo by jonathan gayman

10 books to buy for a food & drink lover this holiday season

Make a friend some food and they’ll eat well for a day; buy them an awesome cookbook or food-based memoir and they’ll eat and drink dope stuff forever. At least I think that’s how the saying goes. Here are some books that would make great gifts for the foodie in your life.

Death and Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails
I’ve been slowly reading this one cover to cover; it’s so jam-packed with information that you really don’t need much else to build a great bar and become a next-level bartender, even at home. It’s got over 500 recipes, some of which have backstories so you can understand their development. The book also goes deep on the spirits that the staff at revolutionary craft cocktail bar Death and Co. rely on nightly.

The Nom Wah Cookbook
Ever wanted to make the perfect bao at home? Trying to elevate your dumpling game or sling some delicious scallion pancakes? Between the gorgeous photography, accessible recipes and moving stories, this dim sum bible is a must-have. Gift this to your favorite Chinese food lover and they’ll be inviting you over for a brunch feast in no time to say thank you.

Cork Dork
This is a very engaging book by Bianca Bosker, who decided one day to leave her job and spend all of her time trying to understand wine. You’ll be jealous the whole time you’re reading it. Bosker talks about everything here: the sommeliers who spend their lives trying to master wine, the rich buyers who hunt it down, the academics and scientists who study it, and the diners who order it. If you’ve ever fantasized about becoming a wine expert and wondered what it would take to get there, then this book is for you.

This is the Middle Eastern cuisine encyclopedia you’ve always wanted; it covers hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, fattoush, shakshuka and everything else you love (or want to try). The spicy roasted potatoes with lemon and herbs is one of my favorite summer dishes. 

New World Sourdough
This much-anticipated bread book from Bryan Ford (you may know him by his Instagram alias, @artisanbryan) is a sourdough primer that will teach you all the techniques, tips and treatments necessary to make awesome bread. Once you’ve mastered the basics, take it further with his recipes for plantain sourdough, birote, pan Gallego, bagels, ciabatta, rustic olive and Parmesan bread, Jamaican hard dough and so much more.

Cool Beans
A whole book about beans! From the dining editor of The Washington Post! And it’s mostly vegetarian/vegan! For me, Cool Beans is the ultimate cookbook. If you put some time into this one, you’ll come away with some excellent dried bean knowledge and techniques, and you’ll also learn some awesome recipes along the way, from a killer spinach-artichoke dip to an assortment of pastas, stews and tacos. Pro tip: The fava, ricotta and lemon pizza – the sole ’za in this cookbook – is very good.

Chrissy Tiegen’s Cravings is your favorite home cook’s favorite cookbook. And depending on where you eat, it could be your favorite restaurant’s executive chef’s favorite cookbook. My partner, who is a linguine and clams expert, says, “Chrissy Tiegen’s is the only linguine and clams recipe I make anymore.” What else do you need to hear?

Crying in H Mart
Written by Michelle Zauner, lead singer and songwriter of indie band Japanese Breakfast, Crying in H Mart documents Zauner’s close, if at times fraught, relationship with her mother, who passed away when Zauner was 25. Many of Zauner’s memories of her mother revolve around the meals they shared at home and while visiting family in South Korea. It’s a beautiful testimony to food’s power to connect us with the people we love, even after they’re gone.

This cookbook from actor, comedian and home cook Eric Wareheim is first and foremost a great read, full of funny stories and killer recipes. From orange chicken to beef bourguignon to pasta, Wareheim takes you through some of his personal favorite dishes. Excellent wine and cocktail chapters ensure that you’ll basically be a dinner party-throwing master by the time you finish this one. The photos and art design in this one are amazing, so if you’re a fan of Wareheim (or just of great food and wine), this is totally worth it for the visuals alone. 

Heat and Dirt
One of my favorite quarantine reads was Heat by Bill Buford, which charts the New Yorker writer’s journey from home cook to internationally trained kitchen professional. Regardless of your opinion of Mario Batali, you’ll be swept away by this memoir that’s equal parts Batali background, juicy behind-the-scenes of big New York City kitchens and love letter to Italian cuisine (complete with an extended cameo from boisterous Italian butcher Dario Cecchini). I recently started Buford’s great follow-up, Dirt, which takes a similar approach with French food. You must get both.