March 01, 1991 at 05:00 AM EST

Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook

Current Status
In Season
John Welchman, Anya Von Bremzen
We gave it an A

If lusty ethnic cooking is what’s wanted, this captivating Russian cookbook, Please to the Table, is a shoo-in for the coveted babushka award. Yes, Moscow-born Anya von Bremzen and coauthor John Welchman have assembled inviting recipes for the borscht, blini, dumplings, and piroghi you’d expect from baba‘s kitchen. But they also bring us unexpected pleasures from that land of food queues and shortages. There are Moldavia’s bountiful moussaka and fragrant veal-and-quince stew. There are Georgia’s meat and fish dishes smothered in a piquant pomegranate sauce. And there’s a heady profusion of Azerbaijan’s sumptuous, saffron-scented basmati pilafs. In all, 660 pages of arresting flavors and fiercely retained regional foodways. And like all top-notch culinary ambassadors, these authors bring us more than recipes. They bring us into the crowded, convivial Russian kitchen. A

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