The Good Cuisine by Françoise Bernard and Alain Ducasse. Pitting the luxe leanings of French master Ducasse against the budget-savvy approach of Bernard, The Good Cuisine presents recipes for 52 ingredients with lively essays throughout.

Is There A Nutmeg In The House? by Elizabeth David. From a 14-step recipe for handmade mayonnaise to a chapter descriptively titled "Garlic Presses Are Utterly Useless," this collection of essays (many previously unpublished) by the late influential food writer offers new examples of her witty, spirited prose.

The Raw And The Cooked: Adventures Of A Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison. Move over, Anthony Bourdain. With these essays on Harrison's culinary exploits, the novelist seems to be angling for the macho chef's market share.

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. In the past few years, at least three cultural histories of salt have been published. This one offers the most insightful look at the role of salt in civilization.

The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney. This reprint of the classic by the American-expat cook and writer Olney--who lived in Provence and spread the gospel of French cuisine--includes an introduction by noted California chef Paul Bertolli.