Special Issues » Holiday Guide

Regional and national cookbooks that will make their eyes pop and their mouths water

Travelust

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In keeping with the travel wishes at the front of this year's Holiday Issue, these are the 2015 cookbooks that have us checking our passports, and they make great gifts for anyone with itchy feet. As a group, they're more descriptive than prescriptive – that is to say, they're more like coffee-table art books about food and landscapes than they are guides on how to get dinner on the table (unless you keep lovage stems, dried grasshoppers and pandan leaves in your pantry). Consider yourself forewarned.

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Hartwood: Bright, Wild Flavors From the Edge of the Yucatán, by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan, 304 pages)

The must-get reservation in Tulum: a seat under the stars at this beachside haven of local fish and produce treated with innovative technique.

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Sea and Smoke: Flavors From the Untamed Pacific Northwest, by Blaine Wetzel and Joe Ray (Running Press, 272 pages)

Beautiful pictures of unattainable dishes – unattainable, that is, unless you can get a reservation at the Willows Inn, Wetzel's restaurant on tiny Lummi Island in the Puget Sound.

Tacopedia (pictured at top), by Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena (Phaidon Press, 318 pages)

Just like it sounds, an exhaustive encyclopedia of tacos around the world, in varieties from steak and pork to grilled brains and toasted grasshoppers.

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Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes From the Source to the Bowl, by Pierre Thiam and Jennifer Sit (Lake Isle Press, 320 pages)

West African may be the next It Cuisine, but even if you never eat a bowl of yassa, you'll revel in these bright tropical photos.

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CCCP Cook Book: True Stories of Soviet Cuisine, by Olga Syutkin and Pavel Syutkin (Fuel Publishing, 192 pages)

Russian propaganda posters, period snapshots, and recipes for everything from elaborate banquet food to stone-soup improvisations by hungry comrades.

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The Nordic Cookbook, by Magnus Nilsson (Phaidon Press, 768 pages)

Less picky than Nilsson's restaurant cookbook, Fäviken, but even so, it's home cooking from the kind of Scandinavian ingredients American home cooks are unlikely to have on hand.

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Nashville Eats: Hot Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits, and 100 More Southern Recipes From Music City, by Jennifer Justus (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 256 pages)

The most accessible of this bunch, but still enjoyable as much as a picture book as a cooking tutorial.

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