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COOKBOOK WATCH

It hasn’t been easy for Americans to get a copy of “The Penguin Book of Food and Drink.” Although it was well received in Britain, where it was published in 1996, the collection of writings, edited by Paul Levy and featuring a significant number of American writers, has only recently become available (in paperback, $14.95) to American readers.

In it are some wonderful treasures: M.F.K. Fisher’s curious encounter with a food-mad waitress in Burgundy; an excerpt from George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” (a book anyone who eats or works in restaurants should read); Calvin Trillin’s proposal to change the national Thanksgiving dish from turkey to spaghetti carbonara; S.J. Perelman’s Chandler parody, “Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer”; Raymond Sokolov’s essay on cannibalism, “One Man’s Meat Is Another’s Person”; Lucius Beebe on the Boston restaurant Julien; Joseph Wechsberg on his last meal with French chef Fernand Point; an excerpt from Elizabeth David’s “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine,” with one of the book’s few recipes; and much more, including, it should be noted, Times writer Charles Perry’s original 1987 investigation of rotted barley condiments in the medieval Near East.


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