The rise of the digital age has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of information from the palms of our hands. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have moved front and center, demanding more and more attention as we become ever-hungry for instant gratification and tap into more knowledge than previously thought possible.
This hunger extends to the culinary world; online resources, apps, and websites offer a steady stream of recipes, tutorials, and stories to satisfy our cravings. Given this surge in virtual activity, you might think that the days of the trusty cookbook were numbered. Luckily, that’s not the case. According to a report published by the NPD Group in 2018, cookbook sales in the United States were up 21 percent that year. The influence of dietary trends – who’s gone keto as of late? – as well as a piqued interest in global cuisines means that consumers are still eager to get their hands on materials that serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose. After all, having a stack of visually-pleasing, Insta-ready cookbooks on your bookshelves does lend a nice touch, no?
Sure, a quickly-Googled recipe might get you out of a bind in a jiffy, but there’s nothing like carefully perusing one of those giant tomes, carefully selecting recipes and reading up on new techniques. Nothing compares to the dog-eared pages and covers splattered with remnants of Thanksgiving gravy or homemade chicken stock, not to mention the anxiety involved in having a ridiculously expensive electronic device in such an unpredictable spot as the kitchen.
Whether you’re a gastro-newbie or a seasoned home cook, we at The Bubble have rounded up ten essential Argentine cookbooks that will kick off your kitchen library. From the original classics to the next generation of culinary influencers, these cookbooks will both inspire and entertain, from sweet to savory, simple to complex, traditional to modern.
El Libro de Doña Petrona, by Petrona C. de Gandulfo
Doña Petrona is the OG, the Alpha and the Omega, the one that started it all. If you’re keen to make a comparison, you could consider her the Julia Child of Argentine cooking. Born in Santiago del Estero in 1896, Petrona Carrizo de Gandulfo relocated to Buenos Aires with her husband who worked for the Correo Argentino. To help make ends meet, Petrona got a job with the gas company and helped launch a new campaign showcasing the benefits of using gas stoves for cooking. After her first book was launched, she published thousands of recipes in a magazine column, then taking to the radio which would cement her status as a household name.
In 1933, her book El Libro de Doña Petrona was first published. The 500-page book included both recipes (spoiler alert: heavy on butter and oil, #blessed) and tips for women charged with running their household. Sales of El Libro de Doña Petrona have surpassed Argentine icons Jorge Luis Borges, Ernesto Sabato, and even the epic Martín Fierro. Her television show Buenas Tardes, Mucho Gusto was on the air for 20 years. A fan of drinking a daily whiskey on the rocks, Petrona died of a heart attack in 1992, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire generations of female cooks in both Argentina and beyond.
Cocina Fácil para la Mujer Moderna, by Choly Berreteaga
Born in Galicia in 1927, María Esther Brañeiro spent her childhood in Buenos Aires before relocating to Castelar in 1940 to treat her respiratory issues. She studied culinary arts and worked as a piano teacher to generate extra income, but everything changed in 1963. After earning a chance to participate in Doña Petrona’s Buenas Tardes, Mucho Gusto television program, Choly joined the regular cast just two months later. In 1986, she joined TV show Utilísima, which was spun-off into its own channel ten years later. By 2014 she was planning her farewell from the small screen with a program called 50 Años Junto a Choly. She died in December 2018 at the age of 91.
Cocina Fácil para la Mujer Moderna was first published in 1976, and though she authored more than 50 books in her lifetime, it continues to be the most emblematic. Having sold more than one million copies, it served as an introductory reference to the world of cooking for both women and men alike. For more than half a century, Choly taught Argentines that preparing food for others is an act of love, even if it’s just a simple plate of pasta or a cake that ends up a little lopsided.
Pick up a copy of Cocina Fácil para la Mujer Moderna here .
Arroz, by Hernán Gipponi
When you think of rice, Argentina probably isn’t the first country on the list that comes to mind. Annually, Argentines consume just 6kg of the grain, versus more than 200kg in Vietnam and Thailand. However, there are more than 200,000 hectares of rice planted across Argentina in five provinces: Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Formosa, Santa Fe, and Chaco. There’s even a booming organic production on the rise as well.
Hernán Gipponi‘s Arroz is part encyclopedia, part anthology, part cookbook. In it, you’ll trace the chef’s own journey from Argentina to Spain and back again (he now resides in Bilbao) while learning just how versatile and complex rice dishes can be. From stocks to sofritos to flavored oils, you’ll tackle the building blocks of a strong recipe and gain insider knowledge along the way. A book you’ll want to cuddle up with on a Sunday morning as you plan out what you’ll be cooking later that week, Arroz is a reminder that it’s OK to leave the pasta and the milanesa behind, and that Argentine cuisine means so much more than the same five dishes we’re so accustomed to preparing.
La Torta Perfecta, by Osvaldo Gross
Osvaldo Gross is a Santa Fe native (b. 1961) who has reached global fame for his pastry skills. After studying geochemistry in La Plata, he worked in various mining projects across Argentina until he decided to study cooking with Francis Mallmann, Alicia Berger and Pelusa Molina in 1998. Three years later, he moved to Paris to study pastry at L’Ecole Lenôtre; he would also study in Italy, Germany, and the United States. Upon returning to Argentina, he worked at the prestigious Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires, and as sous chef he would once again travel abroad, working for Hyatt in Singapore, Tokyo, and Germany.
As Chef Pâtissier at the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomía (IAG), Gross is at the helm of the academic program that prepares some of the country’s most capable culinary students. He has been on TV since 1992, hosting a variety of his own programs as well as participating as a judge in cooking competitions. Of his several books published, La Torta Perfecta tackles the cake universe in its entirety. The book’s eight chapters cover everything: Argentine classics (if you’ve always wanted to try the iconic torta balcarce, now’s your chance), cakes like red velvet and coconut squares, everything chocolate, cheesecakes, holiday desserts, and modern tastes and trends. The final chapter comprises an A-Z of basic building blocks essential to every recipe, like custard and simple syrup. Once you’re done, consider yourself a PhD in pastry.
Ñam Ñam, by Narda Lepes
Everyone knows Narda by name at this point. The Argentine chef and TV personality has become a leading voice in the campaign for healthy, seasonal eating in Argentina. After working in different restaurants in Paris in 1995, Narda made her television debut on El Gourmet’s show Fusión alongside chefs Maxi Amborsio and Sebastián Tarica. After landing her own show in 2003, she moved on to publish her first book Comer y Pasarla Bien in 2007. Years later, she continued to work in television – she even had a show Doña Petrona por Narda, where she recreated dishes by our fearless pioneer up top – participating in reality competitions Dueños de la Cocina and MasterChef Uruguay.
Ñam Ñam, Manual para Alimentar a un Pequeño Omnívoro, is the solution to those parents struggling with preparing their children tasty meals that aren’t just chicken nuggets and French fries. Narda is a firm believer in exposing kids to fresh, seasonal ingredients and dishes from a young age, incorporating them into the cooking process and teaching them the value of eating homemade. She also wages the battle on disinformation and the manipulative marketing campaigns that set the scene for childhood obesity and diabetes. This book is an indispensable guide for any parent or adult who cares about both feeding and educating the next generation with love.
Siete Fuegos, by Francis Mallmann
Oh, Mallmann. There you are, off on your private island in Patagonia or writing sexual poetry in the rolling green hills of Uruguay. You’ve created a lifestyle brand and everyone wants a piece. Born in 1956, Francis Mallmann spent his childhood in Bariloche before moving to Paris to work alongside culinary legends like Alain Chapel. After returning to Argentina, he ran a couple of restaurants in Buenos Aires and started working in television by the early 80s. During that time he also published his first book, La Cocina al Instante and continued to develop his hippie-gourmet empire.
Mallmann hosted several shows on the TV channel El Gourmet and was even featured in the Netflix series Chef’s Table. Known for his rustic approach to cooking, he uses open flame in a variety of manners to achieve deceptively simple results. He has several restaurants, including Garzón in Uruguay, Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, and 1884 in Mendoza. His book Siete Fuegos includes over 100 recipes that feature the best of traditional Argentine cuisine and the different types of fire used to create it. It’s the perfect addition to any asador‘s library, and an ideal gift for any Argie-phile or armchair wannabe who saw Mallmann on Netflix and couldn’t stop drooling.
Beber y Dibujar, by Josefina Jolly
One can get creative in the culinary sense without using every pot and pan available in the kitchen. What’s more, there’s a whole world of beverages yet to be explored, from smoothies and juices to cocktails and coffee creations. Now imagine all of that information perfectly packed in an illustrated book that’s cute as a button. Enter Josefina Jolly’s Beber y Dibujar, a playful book of more than 50 recipes that will ensure you get the most out of your blender.
Jolly is an illustrator born in Buenos Aires in 1985; she worked in tourism and with airlines while nurturing her passion and talent for drawing before taking the leap full-time to work as an artist. As a means of teaching herself to cook, she began illustrating recipes to make the process a little easier and more enjoyable. In 2015, the crowdfunded Cocinar y Dibujar was published and became an immediate hit. From there she’s continued to explore her creativity, publishing illustrations of Buenos Aires and more. Published in 2018, Beber y Dibujar would make the perfect gift for someone looking to have a little more fun in the kitchen. It’s sure to inspire a spark of creativity both inside the cocina and out.
Cocinero, by Fernando Trocca
I’m just going to say it: Fernando Trocca is the zaddy of Argentine cooking. Born in 1966, he was taught by his grandmother Serafina to enjoy cooking from a young age. After moving to Bariloche to study culinary arts at a school that would never actually open, he worked in the kitchens of heavyweights like Gato Dumas, Paul Azema, and Francis Mallmann. By 22, he was at the helm of his own restaurant and later moved to New York where he ran the kitchen at hotspot Vandam. Upon returning to Buenos Aires in 2001, Trocca managed to survive the country’s economic collapse and emerge even stronger, opening the restaurant Sucre, which continues to be one of the city’s top eateries. In 2014 he then opened Mostrador Santa Teresita in Uruguay’s foodie haven José Ignacio, and then launched Orilla in Buenos Aires at the end of 2018.
Published in 2016, Cocinero is a summary of 30 years of passion for cooking. It’s a book full of recipes learned from Trocca’s grandmother and his childhood, from his first trips abroad as a young cook, from his fellow chefs, and more. It’s an invitation into Trocca’s world, to see what moves him, what drives his passion, and how that translates into the incredible journey he’s built for himself over the course of three decades (and counting). Cocinero offers the reader a chance to discover the nuances of Argentine cuisine, going beyond obvious stereotypes and diving deeper into what it’s really all about.
Nueva Cocina Argentina, by Pietro Sorba
Pietro Sorba knows good eats. This Italian journalist, food and wine critic, and avid student of culinary history and anthropology has some serious chops when it comes to the best of Buenos Aires culture, tradition, and cuisine. He’s a prolific writer, having covered everything from soup to nuts – and then some – as a food columnist for Clarín and Infobae. Sorba has published books on the bodegones, parrillas, and pizzerias of Buenos Aires, a guide to the top 150 “no-fail” restaurants, a cookbook all about meat, *another* cookbook about the Italian recipes that shaped him, and more. He’s definitely established himself as the go-to guru for anything and everything related to Argentina’s culinary identity, its most beloved dishes and traditions, and the stories behind the people who continue to share them with the community.
If you’re going to pick up just one of Pietro Soroba’s books, Nueva Cocina Argentina published in 2012 should be it. In it, 31 cooks (“de verdad” according to Sorba) were chosen to come together to share 224 recipes that demonstrate the talent and the vision of Argentina’s young chefs. My only bone to pick is that just three women are featured; luckily, there is more female representation – and recognition – in kitchens today. The cookbook is a snapshot of each chef’s interpretation of their country’s cuisine, demonstrating just how versatile and rich Argentina’s food landscape truly is.
You Cook, by Felicitas Pizarro
YouTubers are a mixed bag, no? It’s like how many makeup tutorials and random unboxings can you watch? But then there are the gems that emerge from the pack, those with real charisma, personality, and talent that reach new audiences in exciting ways. Felicitas Pizarro was born in Buenos Aires in 1985 and her love affair with cooking started at a young age. After studying to be a chef, in 2013 she was named the winner of British chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Search for a Star competition. Her outgoing and charming vibe attracts both a younger generation of digital natives first coming into contact with the food world as well as adults eager to become acquainted with new local talent.
This launched her on the fast-track to local stardom, and the publication of her first book You Cook came shortly thereafter. Felicitas appears on different television shows, like El Gran Premio de la Cocina on El Trece, and Cocina para Mis Amigos on El Gourmet. She also teaches cooking classes, even working with the women in underserved communities on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to teach them skills that will help them gain employment. Her style focuses on simple, healthy, colorful, and flavorful dishes that take the mystery and difficulty out of preparing delicious food.