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The New : From the Kitchen to the Coffee Table

December 19, 1985

Gone are the days when the typical cookbook was splattered with grease and relegated to the kitchen. One of the trendiest new gifts this season is the oversized cookbook that costs $30 or more, with lush, full color photographs and pristine, glossy pages. And it sits, accompanied by other arty books and magazines, on the coffee table.

It all has something to do with the rise of "foodies," those so enamored of state-of-the-art cooking that they discuss it with the intensity that people in the '60s reserved for the latest Fellini film. Plus, an expensive cookbook in the living room can keep you out of the kitchen--at least for a while. Guests flipping through the books assume you're a culinary expert, even if you haven't actually produced anything displayed in those gorgeous photographs.

"We've just started to sell those large format cookbooks," says Brian Washburn, manager of B. Dalton in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. "There's one called 'China's Food' that people have been asking specifically for." Written by Lionel Tiger with photographs by Reinhart Wolf, "China's Food" costs $40 and is published by Friendly Press. Also selling well at B. Dalton is "The Perfect Setting," a book about table settings by Peri Wolfman and Charles Gold. It costs $35 and is put out by Harry Abrams, a publishing house well-known for its art books.

Other arty cookbooks to watch for are "Colette's Japanese Cuisine," "Glorious American Food," "Chez Panisse Desserts," "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen," "Spa Food," Lee Bailey's "Country Weekends" and "City Food," and Martha Stewart's "Entertaining." And, if you're trying to keep to a diet during the holidays, remember: It doesn't cost any calories to look at the pictures.

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