The Eating...Our Words Library: 10 Essential Cookbooks Everyone Should Own and Use

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Monica Fuentes
Cooking, eating and reading: three of our favorite things.

Here at EOW, we take our food seriously. We write about all things culinary every day, and for the most part that passion was born in the kitchen. Whether you dabble with molecular gastronomy or are slowly learning your way around a burner or grill, you all share the same quest for culinary knowledge.

So today we're introducing the Eating...Our Words Library. We will add to it periodically, but we're starting with 10 Essential Cookbooks, volumes we feel should be in everyone's collection.

(Some of you will, no doubt, quibble with our selections. We purposefully left off this list some old standbys that we just assumed you already had, including Fannie Farmer's treasure and those great tomes produced by Escoffier, Point and Carême. But if by chance your library is lacking Physiologie du Goût, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante; ouvrage théorique, historique et à l'ordre du jour, dédié aux Gastronomes parisiens, par un Professeur, membre de plusieurs sociétés littéraires et savantes, you should get it. There are some great English editions out there, especially the one translated by M.F.K. Fisher.)

Bon appétit, and keep cooking.

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Image from Barnes & Noble
This book will change the way you cook fish.
10. Fish Without a Doubt: The Cook's Essential Companion by Rick Moonen & Roy Finamore

Celebrated American chef and fish-master Rick Moonen shares his expertise and aims to take the fear out of cooking fish in this classic, modern and comprehensive cookbook. Here you'll find easy-to-follow instructions for more than 250 recipes, including both traditional (think Trout Almondine and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes) and more progressive dishes (think Thai-style Mussels and Creamy Fennel Soup with Salmon and Citrus Ragu).

Why it's on our shelf: Moonen's cookbook will completely change the way you cook fish...and trust us, it will be a change for the better. Moonen covers all the angles, from shopping, prepping and cleaning the fish to nearly every kind of cooking technique. The book's modern and classic recipes are approachable and, better yet, eco-conscious -- there are recipes only for seafood that is not overfished.

Bonus recipe: New England Steamed Dinner with Horseradish Cream

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Image from Barnes & Noble
Learn how to balance flavors like never before.
9. Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Award-winning authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid pair up to bring us a masterful tale of food and travel. It was the duos' journey along Southeast Asia's Mekong River, which rises from the Tibetan Plateau and finally meets the sea in Vietnam, that led them to an epiphany: Each region they encountered followed the same approach to cuisine -- the perfect balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. The book, containing more than 175 exotic and compelling recipes, is rich in both taste and culture.

Why it's on our shelf: We love that you can learn to appreciate the passion and beauty behind Southeast Asian comfort food from the comfort of your own kitchen. Grab a glass of wine and indulge in the evocative stories of the authors' travels along the river. Then learn how to balance flavors as you make and indulge in some equally evocative food, including Lao Sticky Rice, Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad, Thai Grilled Chicken With Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce, and Tapioca and Corn Pudding With Coconut Cream. Cooking has never been so (hot, sour, salty and) sweet.

Bonus recipe: Vietnamese Peanut Sauce

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Image from Barnes & Noble
Read this and veggies may just become a way of life.
8. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman continues his How to Cook Everything series with this one-stop vegetarian cookbook that will even satisfy meat-eaters. The book, dubbed a "more hip Joy of Cooking" by the Washington Post, has more than 2,000 straightforward and dependably delectable recipes and variations. Here you'll find easy-to-follow instructions for everything from produce selection to preparing pad Thai.

Why it's on our shelf: We're not claiming to be meat-free, but everyone can use a little veggie in their lives. Bittman's cookbook makes meatless cooking more accessible than ever. Whether you're a passionate vegetarian or looking for a more health-conscious approach to food, the recipes in this book -- from chickpea fries to lemon ricotta pancakes -- are sure to inspire more meat-free cooking in your home.

Bonus recipe: The Simplest Bean Burgers


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