Pleasures of the table from many cultures

Even though Israel, established in 1948, is a young country, its people have developed their own cooking style, which combines the traditional foods from their native countries with the dairy products, fruits, and vegetables that are grown in Israel. In Cooking the Israeli Way (Lerner, $8.95), Josephine Bacon, who has lived and worked in Israel, gives us recipes for bean soup, falafel, Israeli salad, challah, chicken stuffed with oranges, matzo cake, and other traditional Israeli dishes.

Florence Fabricant's Pleasures of the Table, by Florence Fabricant, with photos by Mathew Klein (Harry N. Abrams, $24.95), is a large book with attractive photographs, and its menus are plausible and practical.

Delicious possibilities are here for the choosing from 325 menus for any occasion from intimate dinners for two to a Greek picnic or a party for 12 or 20.

Entertaining need not be fussy or worrisome, this writer explains, sharing her plans for the perfect meal and how to get it from kitchen to table without a hitch. ``Pleasures of Table'' offers new ways of preparing today's popular foods and updating old favorites. The recipes for the home cook are interesting, well presented, and reliable.

Jean Anderson, respected writer of many cookbooks, and the late Yeffe Kimball, artist and consultant on American Indian affairs, have compiled a food history and recipe collection of American Indian tribes that brings new insight into this aspect of culinary heritage. The Art of American Indian Cooking (Fireside Books, $6.95), contains brief essays on the special cuisines of five geographical locations, providing a fine source of information on native American culture and cuisine.

Fifteen years ago in Wellesley, Mass., a group of women had a party to exchange cookies and recipes. Today, The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook, by Susan Mahnke Perry ($15.95 Dodd Mead), offers a collection of recipes for old-fashioned cookies of all kinds gathered by the group over the years. There are thumbprint cookies, snickerdoodles, and hermits, scrunchies, meltaways, peanut blossoms, moxie cookies, German honey bars, cinnamon stars, tea party cookies, and lots of traditional old world recipes.

Phyllis Hanes is the Monitor's food editor.

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