Comfort and conviviality are not new developments in our ever-evolving food culture but, for one reason or another, they are themes that have consolidated in 2017. A record number of food titles that celebrate the sheer joy of eating, and the sharing and making of collective food memories, are selling like hotcakes. Formality is out, replaced by casual kitchen gatherings with friends and family, where cooking is central to the action. Meanwhile, titles that advocate clean eating – the Spartan, individualistic regime that has been much criticised for encouraging unhealthy introspection – are reportedly down.

Global economic insecurity, political uncertainty, the rise of the modern dictator, fake news, confusion over Brexit, climate change. Whatever the cause, the effect seems to be an existential retreat under the duvet of the food we know and trust, in a phenomenon dubbed elsewhere as “hyper-regionality”. New titles this year come from Syria and Bethlehem.

From London, Nigel Slater encapsulates the British vogue for noshtalgia with The Christmas Chronicles (Fourth Estate; £26), a lyrical, evocative paeon to winter and the food and drink that goes with it – though (cannellini) beans and Italian sausage, pot-roast partridge and marmalade pears all have his distinctively loving modernised treatment. Nigella too does her charming best to champion old-fashioned British home cooking with some innovative takes on classic recipes in At My Table (Vintage; £26). An instant favourite will surely be her easy-peasy chicken and pea traybake.

And in Edinburgh, Tom Kitchin’s stated motivation in his gorgeous and definitive Meat & Game (Absolute Press, £20) is to “push home cooks out of their comfort zones” and experiment with (Scottish) produce they have not used before. Yet what could be more comforting than steak and kidney pie with a wee roast bone marrow poking up through the pastry, or oxtail soup with cheese on toast, grouse sausage rolls, pigeon cheeseburgers, hare cannelloni, beer-can pheasant? Proof that with a little imagination, ancient Scottish produce can be deliciously updated.

Like Slater, Mary Contini of Edinburgh’s Valvona & Crolla blends exquisite storytelling and food memories in Dear Alfonso: An Italian Feast of Love & Laughter (Birlinn; £17.99). Based on a handwritten manuscript by her father-in-law Carlo Contini, it was addressed in gratitude to Alfonso, his wife Olivia’s father, who co-founded the famous Edinburgh delicatessen in 1934 and whom he’d never met. Alfonso died in 1940 as an enemy alien aboard the SS Arandora Star when it was torpedoed by the Germans off the west coast of Ireland en route to a Canadian internment camp.

The authentic recipes are from Carlo’s mother, Annunziata Conturso, and are based on the Italian tradition of cooking for a large family on a small budget. In sharing her method of making spaghetti with sugo, fish soup, stuffed endive, pasta frittata, Cockenzie-born Contini lovingly evokes the smells and flavours of Italy and its historic, enduring culinary links with Scotland.

From Glasgow, meanwhile, comes a last-minute reminder of our historic culinary links with a rather different food culture in The Full Bhoona (Ringwood, £17.99), a compilation of memories and recipes from the Koh I Noor, Glasgow’s oldest existing Indian restaurant. Founded in 1956 by the Tahir family from Pakistan, it claims to have introduced curry and Punjabi cooking to Glaswegians, and especially the lamb dish of the book’s delightful title, whose name has now become part of the local vocabulary to mean “the whole shebang”.

And Glasgow-based broadcaster and novice author Rachel McCormack set out, quite rightly, to convince Scots to start using whisky in cooking, as almost every other country in the world does with its own national drink. In Chasing The Dram (Simon & Schuster; £16.99) she visits every distillery in Scotland (mostly by public transport and meeting ordinary workers) and, in spirited style, gathers some tempting ideas, such as duck stuffed with whisky-soaked prunes, roast syringed lamb, chocolate and whisky macarons and a venison biryani. And why not, if it helps democratise access to our national drink while putting new interest into cooking?

Saving culinary heritage before it disappears altogether is an urgent priority in many parts of the world. War-torn Syria, for example, finds its great and ancient food culture shattered as its people flee and disperse to safety in other countries around the globe. With Syria: Recipes from Home (Trapeze; £17.99) Syrian-born Itab Azzam, a London-based film-maker and theatre producer, has joined forces with Dina Mousawi, a British-Iraqi actor who grew up in Baghdad and fled during the Iraq war, to produce a collection of recipes given to them by Syrian women now living in tents, bedsits and on the street, and those now living in the UK who have developed an intensifying yearning for the food from home. And so we sample the bedrocks of Syrian cuisine. Omelettes seasoned with Aleppo pepper; freekeh, labneh, smoked rice, grape molasses, sugar and caffeine.

Published just before Christmas and in the wake of the US President’s controversial announcement that Jerusalem is to be the capital of Israel, one imagines that Bethlehem: Beautiful Resistance Recipes (Gilgamesh; £20) will doubtless have added impact. Here, authors Abdelfattah Abusrour and Manal Odeh have collected authentic recipes from the residents of Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp, which have been handed down through generations of Palestinians. Maqlouba upside down spiced chicken bake and rosewater-scented ma’moul date cookies are just some of them.

A fruitful year, then, of elegantly packaged reminders that when the status quo is under threat real or imagined, food has the power to unite and strengthen and well as to offer unfathomable comfort.