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Cookstuff

Cookbook Watch

March 18, 1998|LAURIE OCHOA

The lighthearted title of George Lang's food-obsessed autobiography prepares the reader for fluff. But "Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen" (Knopf, $30), which includes a small collection of Lang's favorite recipes, begins with the dramatic tale of the future restaurateur's early years: a charmed childhood followed by the horror of Nazi camps, survival as a member of an anti-Semitic militia from which he secretly aided his fellow Jews, imprisonment when his ruse was discovered and, ultimately, news of his parents' deaths at Auschwitz. For Lang, what remains after the loss of his family, his country and his promising career as a concert violinist is music and, especially, food. With humor, charm and a healthy ego, he describes his adventures in show business and New York's catering and banquet circuit on his way to becoming an internationally known restaurateur (his best-known restaurants are New York's Cafe des Artistes and Budapest's Gundel). Once you're acquainted with Lang's survival spirit and dark humor, the title makes perfect sense.

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