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AROUND HOME : IN THE KITCHEN : World of Cookbooks

March 27, 1988|RUTH REICHL

JULIA CHILD CONSIDERS it a "must." Bert Greene is a fan. Paula Wolfert reads it "little by little because I never want it to end." Certainly there is nothing, anywhere, quite like World of Cookbooks, a bimonthly newsletter about--just as it says--cookbooks.

Grace Kirschenbaum, the newsletter's Los Angeles-based publisher, somehow manages to review (and even occasionally excerpt) not only cookbooks written in English but also in Danish, German, French, Russian, Hebrew, Thai--just about any language in which food is being written and talked about.

This is fascinating material, and Kirschenbaum knows her subject. In one issue, for instance, she discusses emigre Indian food in Canada, quotes from a book on Moroccan cooking written in Hebrew ("I used to stick my nose into everybody's pot," the author recalls of her Moroccan childhood). Kirschenbaum discusses coastal Carolina cooking, which sounds wonderfully exotic with recipes for persimmon beer, roast swan and red snapper throat, and in a review of a book called "Stories of Russian Cooking," she reveals that the Russian language has more than 10 names for different kinds of soup while English has only three.

Kirschenbaum writes in a loving way, but she can also be very critical. Misinformation makes her very cross. Reviewing a book on fruits and vegetables, she chides, "He says cherimoyas must ripen on the tree. That is wrong!" Fingering other authors, she concludes, "There is a lot of misinformation going out on lesser-known produce."

But no misinformation here; Kirschenbaum is admirably informed. In addition to reviews of cookbooks she offers insider news of cookbooks in the making. Should you want to order anything, Kirschenbaum passes on sources for the exotic wares she reviews.

The World of Cookbooks newsletter is wonderful reading for anybody who cares about food. You don't even have to own a stove to enjoy it.

World of Cookbooks, the International Cookbook Newsletter, is published bimonthly and sold only by subscription; cost is $30 a year. Address: 1645 S. Vineyard Ave., Los Angeles 90019 (213) 933-1645.

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