Books: I Cook, Therefore I Am

New cookbooks spiced and spiked with authors' personalities

When home economists ran the kitchen, recipes read like laboratory reports, and human voices could rarely be discerned above the instructions for tsp. and tbsp. But that was a generation ago. Today cooking has become a prime medium for self-expression, television has made superstars of once anonymous chefs, and the voices of food writers resound through their works.

Betty Fussell's I Hear America Cooking (Viking; $24.95), for example, carries the sonorous subtitle "A Journey of Discovery from Alaska to Florida -- the Cooks, the Recipes, and the Unique Flavors of Our National Cuisine." The problem is, her self-imposed "time frame" forces...

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