Try a new cookbook in 1980

Savoring Mexico, A Travel Cookbook by Sharon Cadwallader, (McGraw-Hill Paperbacks, $6.95; hardcover, $10.95), is like taking a leisurely trip through Mexico with a person who is especially knowledgeable about the food.

A nationally-known writer on natural foods and author of "The Whole Earth Cookbooks," Sharon recently revisited 10 of her favorite regions of Mexico, talking with cooks in restaurants and in private homes, and sampling the food and markets of cities and pueblos.

Descriptions of village life, regional culture and the local geography add charm to the recipes and the story that takes the reader through the lakes and valleys, the Yucatan Peninsula and the coastal and inland regions of this country of contrasts.

Japanese Cooking Now by Jean Itoh (Warner Books, New York City, $12.50) is a handsome book, printed and published in Japan with illustrations by Tadashi Ohashi. The recipes are authentic and the Japanese approach to food in their own homes is explained by the author.

When she arrived in Japan in 1965, the American bride of a Japanese, she discovered she was expected to learn to cook as they did. Soon she became expert and with the aid of her American cooking background, began adapting dishes for Western kitchens. She also wrote a cooking column for The Japan Times and her first cookbook, "Rice-Paddy gourmet."

There is a chapter on Japanese noodle dishes, one on rice and variations, foods cooked at the table and many other traditional Japanese cooking techniques and methods.

Simple Food For The Good Life by Helen Nearing (Delacorte Press, $12.95) is an interesting collection of good, plain recipes from the home of Helen and Scott Nearing of Maine, pioneering homesteaders since the early 1930's.

These are recipes that truly do call for little experience, little time, little money, few ingredients and a minimum of application. Mrs. Nearing says she was not born a good cook and isn't one now but she can feed a large family or dozens of unexpected visitors easily, substant ially and at the drop of a hat.

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