Keying into your senses of taste and smell create an onslaught of nostalgic memories: Doing homework on a weekday afternoon while grandma gets dinner ready. Helping mom make your birthday cake, hoping she’ll let you lick the mixing bowl. Passing on the tradition of family recipes to the next generation of kids. Recipes are laced not just with delicious flavors, but with family histories that go back for generations. Here are 9 cookbooks to give this Mother’s Day that share recipes and recount family stories of meals from the past and for the future.
Cooking with Nonna, by Rossella Rago
The tender web series Cooking with Nonna stars Rossella Rago alongside a number of Italian grandmas (aka, Nonnas). Though Rago mainly features her own Nonna, Romana, Nonnas from various regions throughout Italy are given time to showcase their specialties. The web series spinoff cookbook celebrates not only sweets like Struffoli and Ricotta Cookies, but sweet moments of human connection.
French Country Cooking, by Mimi Thorisson
The dream of leaving your old life behind and taking your family to live in an old château in the French countryside is one many have entertained. Renowned French food blogger Mimi Thorisson did just that, along with her husband, seven children, and fourteen dogs. Moving into a once lively, now shuttered villa in the famed wine region of Médoc, Thorisson documented the family’s transition through stories and recipes, while her husband captured their bright days in vibrant photographs. Leafing through the book is like taking a sojourn of your own.
Fix-It and Forget-It Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes for Mom, by Hope Comerford
What parent doesn’t like a home-cooked meal they can make with very little time and attention? The slow cooker can be a magic wand that adds minutes to the clock. With tips and tricks galore, this Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook takes slow-cooker recipes to the next level. The 150 dishes include not just soups and stews, but risottos, casseroles, and other savory goodies.
The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook, by Patricia Tanumihardja
In many cultures, the grandmother plays a central role in the family. This cookbook by Patricia Tanumihardja is a love letter to Asian grandmothers. It recounts immigrant stories, homesickness for a land left behind, and how to find a sense of home through food. With 130 mouthwatering Asian dishes (Filipino Chicken Adobo, Shanghai Soup Dumplings, Thai Stuffed Omelet) paired with profiles of real grandmas, this book has readers young and old feeling like kids again in the warmth of their grandma’s kitchen.
Food52 A New Way to Dinner, by Amanda Hesser, Merrill Stubbs
From Food52 founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, authoritative voices in food, comes a book about how these two moms have busy full-time jobs writing about cooking while still managing to feed their own families (it all comes down to strategy and tactics). Building on the Sunday prep method, the book sets up meals for the week using similar bases, yet manages to create a diversity of flavors so no one can complain about a lack of variety. With tailored shopping lists included, this book helps busy parents juggle life.
Soul Food Love, by Alice Randall, Caroline Randall Williams
Written by mother/daughter duo Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams, an author and poet, respectively, this cookbook takes classic soul food recipes and updates them with a nutritious touch. With these two prolific scribes taking on the recipes, the words are as appetizing as the dishes they create. The book delves into the past, present, and future of African American cuisine, kneading history and health into every bite, and tracing the lineages of ingredients.
Lucky Peach All About Eggs, by Rachel Khong, the editors of Lucky Peach
All praise the mother hen, who gives us her eggs to make some of our most delicious dishes: Shakshuka, Omelets, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Egg Curry, and so, so, so, many more. Author Rachel Khong, former editor of Lucky Peach, entices the reader with her inviting, humorous voice. Beyond the many recipes, the book is an ode to eggs, including essays from various Lucky Peach editors (the history of how the egg made its way to the plate, the different kinds of eggs we eat) and idiosyncratic graphics.
My Mother’s Kitchen, by Peter Gethers
When cookbook author and chef mentor Judy Gethers entered her golden years, her son, Peter, decided to re-create her favorite menu selections and write about it. Though Peter doesn’t exactly have his mother’s touch in the kitchen, his amateur status adds to the book’s heartfelt appreciation of cooking for those you love. Delving into Gethers family history with humor and melancholy, My Mother’s Kitchen is at once a cookbook, a collection of memories, and an elegy to an inimitable woman. Keep the tissues close for this one.
Mix-and-Match Mama Kids in the Kitchen, by Shay Shull
This book offers exactly what its title describes: tips for cooking with kids! Inviting kids into the kitchen can be scary, but this cookbook breaks down techniques by age group. With easy-to-follow recipes like Ham, Bacon, and Gruyère Pinwheels and Greek Yogurt Popsicles, kids can get their hands dirty for some finger-licking delicious treats.