The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (Little, Brown & Company)

If you saw the Flavor Bible in a bookstore, its very up-to-date and sleek demeanor might distract you from its super-practical contents. Anyone who has shopped a market, bought a spice, or harbored ambition to stir up something stellar can benefit from edging this volume into a space near his or her cooktop.

Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg's "essential guide to culinary creativity, based on the wisdom of America's most imaginative chefs," has prompted this home cook to read with pleasure its history of food as if it were a zany advice column. Indeed, the Flavor Bible's advice on dish enhancement is so straightforward that cooking becomes a fun game of intrigue. Only you have the map.

With 600 alphabetical entry listings, the Flavor Bible offers compatible flavors for your component of choice. As noted in the preface, "At these times, cooking can transcend drudgery and become a means of meditation and even healing." The results can be auspicious. With the Flavor Bible in hand, dinner by CSA is enlightened.