The best cookbooks take you on a journey, bring it far closer and make the stranger a familiar one. Ideally, you also get lost in the stories, the profusion of recipes and the gluttony that takes hold of you when you see all those tempting goodies. A good culinary travel book can also serve as an excellent consolation for an imposed summer in your own country.

take Feast, food of the Islamic World by Anissa Helou, a voluminous and beautiful book that treats the reader to a long journey through the Islamic world, from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and from Zanzibar to Bangladesh. You go from recognition (Indonesian satay and Syrian kebbeh) to special surprises such as baby shark from Qatar, Uzbek bread and grilled camel hump. And all this is covered without exoticism or orientalism.

Helou marks her way with beautiful stories and a wealth of dishes that reveal the similarities and differences between the countries and cultures she visits. In this way she brings nuance and layering to a large area that is often forgotten or whose individual parts are regularly lumped together.

Each recipe carries a personal story, a history, a culture and tradition. Each dish brings the other close. Like the best culinary travel books do.

In addition, two more tips in the genre that just like Feast have not yet been published in Dutch for incomprehensible reasons.

Feast, Food of the Islamic World, Anissa Helou, Bloomsbury 2018, 544 blz, 43,99 euro

Asma’s Indian Kitchen, Asma Khan, Interlink Books 2018, 192 blz, 27,99 euro

Zaitoun, Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen, Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury 2018, 256 blz, 28,99 euro