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Regional Cookbooks

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

"The New Spanish Table," by Anya von Bremzen (Workman Publishing, $22.95); "The Cuisines of Spain," by Teresa Barrenechea (Ten Speed Press, $40): Spanish food and regional cuisines are both hot these days. So it's not surprising to find two excellent Spanish cookbooks -- one from a food writer (von Bremzen), the other from a chef (Barrenechea) who ran her own New York restaurant for 13 years. Von Bremzen's presents material to American cooks in an unintimidating, attractive way. Barrenechea's more straightforward text digs a bit deeper into the lineage of individual dishes. Each has good photographs.

Don't miss: von Bremzen's excellent paella guidelines and recipes and Barrenechea's lively salads.

"The Arab Table," by May S. Bsisu (William Morrow, $34.95): Bsisu brings the foods of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa to life in the context of traditional Arab kitchens.

"Mangoes and Curry Leaves," by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Artisan, $45): A highly personal travel guide with recipes, this beautiful book is a companion to the award-winning "Hot Sour Salty Sweet." In this volume, the couple gathers quirky experiences and intriguing authentic dishes from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India.

"The New American Cooking," by Joan Nathan (Alfred A. Knopf, $35): Often acting as a kind of culinary anthropologist, Joan Nathan has usually focused on Jewish food. For this book, she sought out cooks, ethnic traditions and recipes that she sees as the "new openness" in American cooking. To pick just one example: Look at how much more tempting her Vietnamese Coleslaw With Peanuts and Lime is than the familiar mayo-based version.

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