On the food scene as elsewhere, the ’80s extravaganza is over. Eating is in, drop-dead entertaining is out, and foodies who lately scoured the globe for ever more exotic edibles are composing valentines to grandma’s home cooking. But that doesn’t mean we’re now limited to our grandmas’ repertoires. When Leslie Newman evokes the ”patient and homely magic” of our grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ kitchens, she clearly has in mind a mythic pan-ancestor who can dish up everything from the inevitable meat loaf and mashed potatoes to a nouvelle couscous salad. While it’s true that none of the content of Feasts is fussy party fare, it is not necessarily simple, either. Nor does Newman’s humble nana make do with traditional staples: ketjap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce), double-smoked bacon, and Calvados (a quarter cup for applesauce) are a few of the items required for her feasts. But with Newman as her medium she’s a gifted cook and generous tutor. B+

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