Wined and dined Oxford University Press has just released greatly revised second editions of their already classic encyclopedias on wine and food. The Oxford Companion to Wine ($65, 019866236X), edited by well-known international wine critic Jancis Robinson, addresses not only the expected topics such as the history of champagne, the faddish popularity of merlot, and tours of Provence and Burgundy it also offers fascinating entries (and charming illustrations) about such topics as the importance of wine imagery in the pre-Islamic Arab poets, differences in vineyards as far apart as Argentina and Australia, and the wine-related origin of the term symposium. Although encyclopedic and exhaustive, the book assumes no prior knowledge of wine, and therefore becomes a gift to both the connoisseur and the novice. The same unassuming breadth characterizes The Oxford Companion to Food, edited by English food writer Alan Davidson. This gorgeous book reminds us that the world is our gingerbread house, that over the centuries adventurous cooks have popped practically everything on earth into their mouths, tinkered until they found the best method of preparation, and passed along their judgments. Entries cover topics ranging from potatoes to aphrodisiacs, from escargot to bats. What is mold and what is its relationship to food? Why do we eat dogfish but not dogs? How do salt and sugar work? The answers to these and thousands of other questions are in this single volume.

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