We Need More From Our Cookbooks in 2020

This collection of new releases offers some of what we’re looking for

Devra Ferst
Published in
13 min readSep 8, 2020


A family dinner with many dishes of colorful food.
Photo from ‘Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen’

Fall is always a busy time for cookbooks, with a fresh crop landing at bookstores and online retailers in the months leading up to the holidays. Despite a few delays in release dates, this year is no different.

But we need more from our cookbooks in 2020. As we pass the time at home during this unending period of uncertainty, we’d like for new cookbooks to connect us to restaurants and bakeries we miss, consume us with culinary projects like making hand-pulled noodles or cherry cream Danishes, to propel us around the world without leaving our kitchens, and to make cooking feel novel even after we’ve made our 20th meal for the week.

These 16 books can provide what we’re looking for — with recipes. Other food books worthy of attention include John Birdsall’s The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard; the collective scholarly work Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice; and memoirs from Deborah Madison, Lisa Donovan, and David Chang.

See you from a social distance at the bookstore.

Armchair Travel Cookbooks

‘In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries That Touch the Indian Ocean’

Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen
October 13

The cover of “Bibi’s Kitchen” — 3 sets of hands hulling seeds.
Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House

In the introduction to their book, Somali chef Hawa Hassan and cookbook author Julia Turshen describe a series of events: First, Hassan interviews Ma Khanyisa, a grandmother from South Africa over Skype. Later in the week, photographer Khadija M. Farah visits Ma Khanyisa and documents her making a dish of corn porridge and wild greens. Turshen then transcribes the interview and writes out Ma Khanyisa’s recipe. The recipe is tested by Hassan and Turshen. This exhaustive process, which was repeated in various forms over and over, helped result in exceptional documentation of the cuisines…



Devra Ferst
Writer for

Devra is a Brooklyn-based food writer, editor, and cooking teacher. She’s also a pretty big fan of lingerie. Follow her on Instagram @dferst