The first (and last) word on salads; Acetaria, A Discourse of Sallets, by John Evelyn (University Press of Virginia,

This is a finely produced facsimile of John Evelyn's ''Acetaria'' (1699), the definitive work on salads. The well-known salad calendar, if followed, will produce a variety of salad ingredients in your garden 12 months of the year. Evelyn, well ahead of his time , firmly believed salads should combine a variety of textures, aromas, colors, and tastes. His advice on dressings is detailed and thorough.

There is a great deal to be learned from the famous 17th-century diarist, who was involved in two major innovations, the icehouse and the pressure cooker.

The Los Angeles Times Cookbook, compiled and edited by Betsy Balsey (New American Library, $ 9.95).

Of several new cookbooks about the California cuisine, no one tells the story better than this one.

The staff for more than 20 years has collected and tested recipes that reflect the state's international influences.

Among these are Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Armenian, and Indonesian influences.

These influences, plus the accent on light, fresh foods suited to the informal life style of the area, result in the California cuisine. This is an excellent collection of easy-to-follow recipes.

Cooking with Madame Wu, by Mme. Sylvia Wu (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

This collection of Chinese recipes from one of California's well-known restaurants features some of Mme. Sun Yat-Sen's favorites, never before served in the United States, as well as other dishes from the five provinces of mainland China.

Recipes include the use of the food processor and microwave oven, some new vegetarian dishes, and some that contain no salt, sugar, or oils - allowing, the author points out, the natural vegetable flavors to dominate.

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