Top 5 Cookbooks For Old World Cooking

Be inspired with these top 5 cookbooks for old world cooking. These are exceptional finds that will have you cooking dishes with worldly flavors and authentic flare.

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My cooking has changed quite a bit over the years. Starting off like most of us, cooking what I grew up eating. The American way of things. However, I was lucky enough to also have a Puerto Rican grandmother who cooked incredible dishes from her mainland. This exposure opened up my world to new flavors and cooking styles. Sadly, those dishes were mostly enjoyed on the spot but never did I learn exactly what went into that sort of cooking. I only knew the intense flavor that came out of her latin American kitchen.

My mother on the other hand cooked the standard American faire. Meat with potatoes and many forms of casseroles that I still to this day have no idea what they were made of. All I knew was that most were held together by a can of soup. My fathers household also never veered too far from these sorts of dishes either. It was and is the way many Americans cook.

As I gained new skills in the kitchen, my palette expanded. I wanted to learn and capture the same dishes I had experienced in my travels. Furthermore, I wanted to learn from those places where people regarded food with a high standard and were known worldwide for their taste. I too love food, from growing it to its preparation and then finally enjoying it. Learning to cook in an old world fashion has been a new adventure that allows for endless curiosity.

Expanding Our Skills

The good news is, is that you don’t have to fly all the way to Italy or France to learn. You can learn right in your own kitchen, with a great book, some patience and the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on.

Since learning how to make fresh pastas, sourdough bread by hand and many other old world foods. I now use both old cookbooks and any new ones I can find that fit the criteria for old world cooking as inspiration. I find simply flipping through the pages to be sufficient inspiration to get me going in my kitchen. This is especially so if the book also shares life in the countrysides of Italy or France.

These books offer great recipes, and inspiration that I go to time and time again. They not only serve as great recipe books but of lifestyles that inspire.

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What is old world cooking?

Old world cooking in a traditional sense, are flavors that have been cooked for generations. Since America is still a young nation when compared to European countries, we don’t generally think of American cooking as old world. That is unless you are lucky enough to have a grandmother cooking her cultures cuisine and sharing her recipes.

Old world cooking can refer to Asian, European and even Indian cooking since these places are rich in traditional cooking. However, I tend to cook with more of a European flare. Old world cooking is fresh, traditional and authentic recipes often passed down through families. It is sadly disappearing with modern times and convenient living.

Mimi Thorisson

If you have not come across Mimi’s gorgeous lifestyle and cooking, you are in for a treat. Some of my favorite recipes have come out of these books. Real Italian risotto, and other culinary treasures. Mimi has two cookbooks under her belt and both are absolutely stunning. Written by Mimi and photographed by her husband Oddur Thorisson. A remarkable photographer who captures her food and the warmth of their convivial lives with an artistic touch.

Both are gorgeous cookbooks that are staples in my cookbook collection. One for French cooking that shares French country living in rural France, cooking out of her amazing old world kitchen. Mimi not only shares delicious recipes but her lively family and idyllic French countryside home. In her newest cookbook she unlocks the magic of Italian cooking and living.

Presently, she is working on a third book and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. She is also a blogger and her blog is surely a pleasure to visit. Mimi proves that one does not have to be a professionally trained cook to make a mark on the culinary world. 

Old World Italian- Mimi Thorisson

A Kitchen In France- Mimi Thorisson

Italian Country Cooking

This beautiful book is filled with inspiring photography and rustic dishes that offer real old world authenticity.  The book is a compendium of European peasant cooking and every time I go through it, I feel inspired to cook. The pages are filled with authentic recipes and sweet dishes that make it a staple in my definitive collection of cookbooks. Within its pages it tells such tales of the peasant associations with food that you find yourself immersed in culinary heritage, not just a mix of recipes.

The writer makes it apparent that peasants cooked with basic ingredients and used everything. Nothing went to waste and from this, some of the most delicious foods have been born. I have cooked several time-tested recipes from this book and I can tell you these delicious recipes and classic dishes are ones that I continue to cook throughout the year. 

Italian Country Cooking- Loukie Werle

Nigellisma- Easy Italian Inspired Recipes

Whenever talking about cookbooks of any sort, I simply must turn you on to Nigella Lawson. She is to me, the queen of great cookbook writing and is herself an award-winning food writer. She prides herself on being a home cook not a chef. Which speaks to me as that is exactly what I am. A home cook with a passion for food.

Her recipes within this book are on the simple side of cooking and that to me is what makes them old world. She relies on fresh ingredients just as any good cook should and the food is traditional enough to have made this list. She writes about her travels to Italy and the dishes she was introduced to by the locals. Not only is this a great cookbook to actually cook from but its also a great read. It is especially good for those looking for easy recipes that utilize basic ingredients. 

Nigellisma- Easy Italian Inspired Recipes

From France To The Farm- Angela Reed

I had to mention an American writer, being American myself. But Angela is not the typical type, in the sense that she has brought in French elements to her lifestyle that simply inspire. She lives on a farm in Wisconsin and shares her beautiful lifestyle. Although there are American recipes in this book, they are the type that have been cooked for generations. Specifically, Angela shares a collection of recipes that are from her gramma whom she warmly writes about. For this, her recipes are a blend of American classics and French country cooking. The book feels almost like a vintage cookbook in the sense that it speaks of simpler times. 

She includes many French staples and even has a French grocery list in the beginning to help guide the reader. I must say, the best part of this book for me, is the photography. It is dreamy, and tells a story of a simple lifestyle, lived by a talented woman who spends her days in her garden, and cooks directly from it. It does not get any more old world than this.

From France To The Farm- Angela Reed

Final Thoughts

Several years ago, I received a hand made cookbook put together by my great grandmother. The recipes were taken from a recipe box she stored in her little kitchen and cooked from often. She included some of her friends recipes in it as well. Things like homemade ice cream and the perfect hollandaise sauce are found within the book. It is a treasure for me to have. Not only are these recipes tried and true familial favorites. At least three generations worth. But they serve as a piece of our history. Just the same as old world cooking does and is in a boarder sense.

If we could take note of my great grandmothers very thoughtful gesture and record our families recipes. We then are preserving a piece of history and thereby reviving the notion of world cooking.

In a modern culture hell bent on convenience, this is surely worth saving.

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