Cookbook Watch

Nature abhors a vacuum, and while there is precious little natural about the cookbook industry, it does too. That's the only way to explain the plethora of grilling cookbooks that have hit the shelves in the past couple of years. Grilling, after all, is almost by definition anti-recipe. How often can you repeat "Salt and pepper to taste and grill until done"?

But if you've got cooks, you've got cookbooks, and so we're inundated with grilling books. Never mind that for the most part they repeat the same basic information, give us a half-dozen or so recipes that someone might really cook and then pad out the rest with silly stuff that only a fool or someone with very bad meat would try.

"Prime Time: The Lobel's Guide to Great Grilled Meats" (Macmillan, $25) by Evan, Leon, Stanley and Mark Lobel is blessedly free of the latter. As a result, it is a small book, even though it is printed with big type. What is there, though, is choice (or, perhaps, considering the topic: prime). The Lobels, of course, run one of Manhattan's best meat markets. This gives their book a certain point of view. In essence, it can probably be summed up as "Hey, wadda ya wanna be doin' dat silly stuff to my good meat for?" A sentiment with which we sympathize heartily.

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