Most days you won’t find us in our home kitchen, because we’re out and about looking for the next great restaurant to feature. Let’s leave the hard work of making delicious food to the professionals, we say. However, part of the fun of food can be taking a dish that inspired you and making it yourself at home. And we also know that dish can be so much more than a plate of food—it can be a window into a culture or a creative process. The very best cookbooks not only teach us how to make the dishes, but bring their context to life.
This year there was a barrage of amazing books that explored handmade pasta, African Americans’ impact on the country’s culinary history, the diversity of one of America’s largest cities, how to use every part of a fish and much more. There was no shortage of tomes to improve your culinary knowledge and help you cook better yourself. Here are the 11 we loved the most.