Spend more than five minutes in the cookbook section of a bookstore and you’ll quickly realize two things: One, you can throw out your back if you don’t use your knees to lift Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine and two, everyone, except apparently you and me, has a cookbook on the market. With hundreds of cookbooks to choose from, it may seem like a daunting task to pick which cookbooks belong in our kitchen and which cookbooks should be left on the bookshelves to collect dust, but I believe that there are 10 cookbooks every home cook should own.
In order to be a well-rounded cook, every kitchen should have at least one reference cookbook, a general cookbook, and an Italian, French, Chinese, Mexican, and Indian cookbook, so I chose a book for each of these categories. These books are great for novice cooks, but they are also useful for more advanced cooks because they are informative and teach cooks a lot about their particular cuisine. It also never hurts for a home cook to have a vegetarian cookbook and one on pastries and bread for a complete culinary education.
The list includes blockbuster bestsellers like Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, both on the list of the 25 Best-Selling Cookbooks of All Time. But it also includes less well-known, but praiseworthy cookbooks like Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking and The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Both books take pains to show cooks how to master a recipe with careful, step-by-step instructions that make it almost impossible to fail.
If you could choose only one cookbook to own in each category, what would you pick?