The Cookbooks of 2022: Critics Picks

December 29, 2022 | M. Elwood

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For the past several years, I've scoured annual critics' choices for books and compiled a list of the cookbooks that were mentioned most frequently.

Each year these book lists provide a tiny snapshot of the world through books about food. For example, in 2020, the list was all about baking, a true reflection on how we all tried to bake our way through the pandemic.

This year, the list is dominated by books that explore a specific region or culture, usually by an author with personal connections to that area. Of course, there are still some baking books and some serious titles aimed at improving your cooking skills.  Below are the best cookbooks of 2022.

Cook you want to be

The Cook You Want to Be by Andy Baraghani

Andy Baraghani fell in love with flavour when he ate the Persian food his parents cooked. As a teenager, he interned at the famed restaurant Chez Panisse. Later he worked at Bon Appetite creating some of their most popular recipes. This book is a result of him asking himself what kind of cook he wanted to be. This cookbook contains 120 recipes showcasing his innovative approach to cooking–trying new techniques, combining unexpected flavours and reimagining familiar dishes. He also shares stories about his love of food in essays throughout the book. 

Diasporican

Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook by Illyanna Maisonet

Illyanna Maisonet shares recipes from her Puerto Rican family in this memoir/cookbook/travelogue. She is especially interested in the history and development of Puerto Rican food; as a colony, many cultures have influenced the cuisine. She is also fascinated by how cooking styles have been passed by Diasporicans–Puerto Ricans who have left their home and settled in the mainland United States. 

First generation

First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home by Frankie Gaw

Frankie Gaw is the son of Taiwanese immigrants who grew up in Ohio. As a child, he had trouble balancing his Taiwanese heritage with his Midwest American childhood. His parents also tried hard to assimilate. Gaw says they rarely had Taiwanese food at home as his mother imitated American meals. After going to Pittsburgh for school, Gaw felt comfortable enough to explore his heritage. He began making visits to his grandmothers who live in the US and began to connect with Taiwanese food. He blends influences from America and Asia to create dishes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch butter mochi.

Good day to bake

A Good Day To Bake: Simple Baking Recipes for Every Mood by Benjamina Ebuehi

You may recognize Benjamina Ebuehi from 2016's Great British Baking Show. Her second cookbook, A Good Day to Bake, was inspired by Covid-19 lockdowns. As people's lives slowed down, they turned to baking. Ebuehi wants to encourage those new bakers by sharing tips, techniques and recipes. She wants to inspire them to bake regularly, instead of waiting for special occasions. The 70 sweet and savoury recipes in this book may not always be easy but Ebuehi's straightforward instructions will appeal to even the novice baker. 

Korean american

Korean American: Food that Tastes Like Home by Eric Kim

The son of Korean immigrants, Eric Kim grew up in Atlanta. In this cookbook/memoir Kim's Southern and Korean identities are represented–gochugaru shrimp with roasted seaweed grits, for instance. Joan Kim, Eric's mother helped him create and test recipes. He describes his book as "a story about a mother and a son and this notion of stability and instability in regards to place. We have stories that are based in place, so home is the perfect word for that.”

Mezcla

Mezcla: Recipes to Excite by Ixta Belfrage 

After spending time in Ottolenghi's Test Kitchen and co-authoring Ottolenghi Flavour, this is Belfrage's first solo cookbook. Mezcla is a Spanish word meaning mix or fusion. Her culinary influences are from her Brazilian heritage, Italy where she spent her childhood, and Mexico where her grandfather lived. She combines and juggles elements from these three countries for unique dishes like Cannelloni Enchiladas that are both familiar and inventive. 

Mi cocina

Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico by Rick Martínez

"When you’re cooking this food, I want you to be happy. To me, the kitchen is such a happy place. And so, this idea of food and rapture and sharing and love, that’s a part of what Mi Cocina really is.”

In 2019 author, chef and host Rick Martínez travelled to Mexico City, bought a car and began the journey that led to the creation of this book. He visited all 32 Mexican states and 156 cities looking for outstanding dishes and unique experiences. He believes that Mexican food is still seen as a single entity when it should be seen as a cuisine from many diverse regions. This book is his attempt to show readers that like France or Italy, food from Mexican regions has particular styles, techniques and tastes. 

My america recipes from a young black chef

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein

Kwame Onwuachi is one of the most notable young chefs in America. He grew up in The Bronx where he was surrounded by food from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and West Indies. At his home, his father's Jamaican/Nigerian background and his mother's childhood in the deep south were also influences. When he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, he was taught about fine dining cooking. While he loved it, he found himself drawn to the comforting familiar food of The Bronx and realized that the food he wanted to create was all around him. The recipes in this book are inspired by Onwuachi's journeys to the lands of his ancestors in Louisiana, Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria and New York. 

California soul

Tanya Holland's California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West by Tanya Holland with Maria C. Hunt and Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz

As millions of African Americans left the southern US to move north during the Great Migration, they brought ingredients, traditions and techniques to their new homes. Later known as soul food, these traditional foods were a comforting reminder of family and home. Soul food restaurants served as meeting places where this community gathered. In this book, Holland looks at the history of California soul food and profiles Black artisans and farmers who innovate while maintaining traditions. 

If you'd like to learn more about the Great Migration, I recommend reading The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. 

Vegan chinese kitchen

The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition by Hannah Che

Hannah Che is vegan but was having trouble balancing vegan food with the Chinese dishes she craved. When travelling in China she was astounded and delighted by the numerous vegetarian restaurants and wanted to learn more about Chinese food and its plant-based history. She enrolled in Guangzhou Vegetarian Culinary School and learned techniques to showcase vegetables in her cooking. 


What were the cookbooks you used the most this year? What's your favourite cookbook of all time? Tell us in the comments. 

Previous years' lists

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