cover image Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days

Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . Knopf, $27.50 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-307-26496-1

The author of A Sport and a Pastime teams with his wife, his 30-year cooking companion, to produce a "dinner book," a quirky cornucopia of recipes, historical notes, household hints, brief surveys of foodstuffs (eggs, salt, avocados, doughnuts, cheeses, olives, martinis, etc.) and utensils (forks, knives or toothpicks, say), appreciation of friends met both in life (including Alice Waters and Julia Child) and through books (Lord Byron, Anna Karenina) and random observations (what makes a good waiter) and advice of all kinds. For example, six "days" in January are dedicated to the useful art of giving a dinner party, but in fact, tips on, or accounts of picnics and parties (clearly a delight for both Salters), are everywhere. Their recipes are simple and good (Polpettone alla Toscana; Chicken Marengo; Fraises à la Cussy; Gazpacho) and can usually be made in advance, leaving the cooks free to socialize. But this volume is not chiefly one of recipes or hints (though both may prove practical). The Salters call it a "bedside book" and, with its attractive packaging and charming illustrations by Fabrice Moireau, it should make the perfect hostess gift, not always an easy thing to choose, say the authors. (Oct. 20)