Take a culinary tour of Asia with these 4 books

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Often, cookbooks languish on our kitchen shelves, only to be referenced once in a blue moon—but the exuberant illustrations of Noodles, Rice, and Everything Spice: A Thai Comic Book Cookbook will have you turning to its recipes for years to come. In 2020, Thai Belgian cartoonist Christina de Witte sought to further connect with her Thai heritage by taking language lessons, which is how she met Mallika Kauppinen, who started teaching Thai via Zoom after moving to Finland from Thailand. The result is this unique cookbook, in which cartoon versions of de Witte and Kauppinen lead you through the fundamentals of Thai cooking and an array of common recipes whose steps are whimsically drawn out. Tools, ingredients, stirring guidelines, timers, heat levels and more are diagrammed in a manner that provides both joy and exceptional clarity unmatched by most cookbooks.

Short comics offer context—the origin of guay tiaw, or “boat noodles,” for example—or pull you into a slice of Kauppinen’s childhood. Our guides are present throughout, drawn onto photos of their meals—floating in a pool of curry, grabbing fistfuls of rice and engaging in other such hijinks. From the liveliness of its writing to the brightness of its color palette, the vibrancy of every aspect of Noodles, Rice, and Everything Spice captures Thai cuisine in such a way that you can almost taste its bold flavors just through reading.

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