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For the Kitchen Bookshelf : Cookbooks. Big books, little books, showy cocktail table books . . . all arrive in time for holiday shopping each year. The Times' Food staff took a look at some of this year's offerings, many of which will make excellent gift choices for last-minute shoppers. Here's a rundown on some we found interesting.

December 21, 1986|Joan Drake

Great American Food Almanac by Irena Chalmers with Milton Glaser and Friends (Harper & Row: $14.95, 232 pp., illustrated).

This almanac includes culinary quizzes, quotes, trivia, lists and recipes. The eclectic collection examines both fun and serious food issues.

The is a book food enthusiasts will enjoy curling up to read on a rainy day. Check out the current culinary ins and outs, learn a bit about U.S. agribusiness and aquabusiness, explore the changing world of eating in, eating out, food on video and cottage industries.

Sprinkled in are recipes such as the author's chocolate truffles, Jack Czarnecki's hominy grits with mushrooms, the Four Seasons' marinated bay scallops and Frank Perdue's 24-carat gold-plated chicken. The concise articles are enhanced with color photographs and illustrations. It all adds up to an informative and humorous "encyclo-eatia."

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