Follow your gut.
If there’s anything that sways the pendulum to a definite “yes” when it comes to whether or not I decide to go to a place (any place), it’s whether or not there will be food. If yes? I will go. If no? I will probably not go. Therefore, when deciding on whether or not I’d like to visit a destination, I am easily swayed by the cuisine of that particular land.
If you’re looking for a little culinary inspiration to help you decide where to go next, all you have to do is flip through the pages of these destination-inspired cookbooks–and trust your gut.
The Tiny Mess
TRIP: A West Coast Roadtrip
Not only will this cookbook make you want to take a several-weeks-long road trip up the West Coast, but it will almost make you extremely comfortable in small kitchens (and perhaps inspire you to actually cook in your own small kitchen that, perhaps, you once deemed too tiny to do real cooking in–talking to myself here). The book follows stories and recipes from people living in mostly rural coastal cities in California (Truckee, Carpinteria, Big Sur, etc) to bigger, though still scenic, areas (Santa Cruz, Berkley) and up the coast through coastal Washington and Oregon. You’ll read about a couple who is living (and cooking) in an Airstream in Northern Washington, a woman living in a “rock dome” in Gaviota, a couple living in a fjord in British Columbia, and many others. Also, after reading it, it will most likely make you want to move to the woods and live on a fjord, while also being very confident that you can cook inside of a fjord (you can! They do!).
The Austin Cookbook
TRIP: A Few Days (or a whole lifetime) in Austin
The author of this cookbook picked up and moved to Honestly, from what’s showcased in this cookbook–this actually makes sense. The recipes featured here will not only make you want to eat these foods immediately, preferably in Austin but also, maybe eat them for the rest of your life because you live in Austin. The Austin food scene is made up of a mixture of deep Texas food traditions and a recently booming food scene–people have flocked there from all over and brought their own food traditions with them, making the scene even that more unique. This book is organized by all of the “major food groups” in Austin–Tex Mex, BBQ, tacos, Texas standards, new classics, chilis, etc. If you can’t get to Austin any time soon, at least with this book, Austin’s best recipes can come to you.
Oktoberfest Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the World s Greatest Beer Festival
TRIP: Fall Oktoberfest Adventures in Munich
Unfortunately, every month is not October–every day I am upset by this fact, but there’s nothing I can physically do about it, except, perhaps, read this cookbook and make it Oktoberfest every day at my house. This book features 50 recipes from the beer tents of Munich, and everybody’s here: sauerkraut, sausages, snacks, other meats, things that aren’t meat, dessert–you know, the full Oktoberfest diet. The book has more than just recipes, too–inside the pages, you will find information about Oktoberfest’s attractions, guides to understanding which tents serve what, and Oktoberfest etiquette so that when you do eventually get to the motherland, you’ll know what’s up (and how to be peak polite).
Tapas: Sensational Small Plates From Spain
TRIP: A long weekend getaway to Spain
There is nothing better than a small plate. You get all these choices and don’t have to fully commit to any of them. Many foods, one meal–that’s how it goes here, and you’re going to like it. The first thing this cookbook will do is teach you about the different types of Mediterranean cuisine themed tapas, and the second thing it will do is: make you need to get to Spain to experience them IRL as quickly as humanly possible. Oh, but since you (I’m talking about myself) can probably not swing that right now, it will, of course, also teach you how to make them in your own home. From little chorizo sausages sauteed in cider to friend Marcona almonds, you can enjoy the taste of Spain in the tiniest of portions (while planning your eventual trip to get the real deal).
Biergarten Cookbook: Traditional Bavarian Recipes
TRIP: Bavaria (when it’s not Oktoberfest)
That’s right–Germany is back, but this time, it’s not October. It’s all of the other months, in this cookbook. If I could sit anywhere all day, it would be in a Biergarten, but since I can’t–carrying around this cookbook will have to suffice. This book brings the Bavarian lifestyle straight into your kitchen with traditional Biergarten dishes as well as updated versions for vegetarians (THANK YOU). Listen, don’t knock a vegetarian sausage–that stuff is good as hell. There’s a section devoted to the classics (cheese spaetzle, beer goulash, sausage everything) as well as Bavarian beer (obviously) and all the Bavarian desserts you could imagine (apple fritters, plum tarts).
The Nordic Cookbook
TRIP: A tour of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden)
If the 700 authentic Nordic recipes throughout this book don’t make you want to pack a suitcase and travel extensively through the Nordic countries (like the author did when compiling material for this cookbook), then the author’s personal and gorgeous photography of the area scattered throughout the book surely will. The Nordic Cookbook features literally every type of Nordic dish–fish, veggies, breads, meats, pastries, etc–and is full of culinary history and techniques that will probably make you buy a very warm jacket and a plane ticket to Sweden.
Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand
TRIP: A few days in Bangkok
It’s no secret that you’re bound to experience sweet culinary magic when visiting Bangkok. The food is unforgettable and like nothing else anywhere in the world. Most Thai cookbooks cover the basics, but this one, in particular, documents authentic recipes that locals in Thailand eat every day: savory snacks, one-plate-meals, rice dishes. Frankly, there’s a recipe for salted fish-pork patties that makes me wish I lived a different life and currently lived in Bangkok. These 120 recipes range from the classics to more modern concoctions, but all are genuine and combined with the history and photos featured in this book will honestly make you want to pack your bags and experience it firsthand.
Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California
TRIP: Clean eating in Los Angeles
Absolutely no one will be arguing with me about this: The food in Southern California is good. Lots of people love to talk about how Los Angeles has no food scene, but here’s the thing: They are wrong. Anyway, Gjelina is a popular restaurant in Venice Beach, with a menu created by extraordinary Chef Travis Lett. The cookbook (named, obviously, after the restaurant) features 125 recipes including pizzas, vegetable and grain combo-dishes, pasta, fish, rustic salads (we love our rustic salads here), and toasts (you bet there’s an avocado toast recipe, pal). After reading a bunch of cookbooks that made me want to pick up and go elsewhere, this book was the reminder that I already live exactly where all the foods I love already are: right here in Los Angeles.
The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture from Downtown Los Angeles
TRIP: Not-so-clean-eating in Los Angeles
Grand Central Market is legendary and not to be missed when visiting LA, but don’t expect to find it full of healthy options. We’re talking yeasted waffles covered in powdered sugar, carnitas tacos, chow mein, BBQ friend chicken–the downtown staple food hall has it all. The cookbook gives you full access to create the multi-national cuisine dishes that define LA as a culture–here, you’ve got options. The cookbook features 85 recipes and has beautiful photography depicting the daily life inside the market–something you absolutely must experience for yourself when visiting Downtown LA.
Orange Blossom & Honey: Magical Moroccan Recipes from the Souks to the Sahara
John Gregory-Smith went on his own journey throughout Morocco to gather these recipes for his semi-new cookbook, which will take you on a journey of your own. Your journey will include but is not limited to street foods, rice dishes, tagines, lamb barbecue, Berber bread, and Moroccan paella. The stories included with the recipes give you an inside look at life in the Moroccan deserts and villages, giving it an even more authentic touch and making me authentically want to visit Morocco and eat everything there.