Food for Thought: Traveling by cookbook | KNKX

Food for Thought: Traveling by cookbook

May 20, 2020

These days when we're all staying home so much, Nancy Leson loves cookbooks that take her away. “I like the ones that make me feel like I'm traveling, even though the farthest I go these days is Bartell's. For me the recipes are secondary almost to everything else, the history, the culture.”

Me, I just want the recipes. But here are some of Nancy's favorite armchair traveling cookbooks.

First stop, France. “Drinking French: The iconic cocktails, apertifs, and cafe traditions of France” by David Liebovitz. “It's got 160 recipes," says Leson,"but what I really love is reading about the cafe culture, the cocktail culture. How to behave in a French cafe.” Hint: don't ask for ice.


Now it's on to Russia, with “Beyond the North Wind: Russia in recipes and lore” by Darra Goldstein. Both sides of Nancy's family are from Russia and Ukraine and the book inspired her to assemble a batch of pork and beef pelmeni dumplings.

Pelmeni prep.
Credit Nancy Leson / KNKX
Finished pelmeni from Beyond the North Wind.
Credit Nancy Leson / KNKX

My father was from Russia, but the only dish from his childhood that I can remember him eating was ptcha, jellied calve's foot with whole garlic and hardboiled eggs. He often offered it to me, but I could never get up my nerve.

Nance loves the Tinga Poblana pork stew from the “A Thousand Chiles” chapter about her travels to Mexico in Diana Henry's “How to Eat a Peach.” 





Other Leson favorites include Najmieh Batmanglij's Cooking in Iran and Fuschia Dunlop's The Food of Sichuan,” both of which we've done whole shows about.


While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put.” – Anne Tyler