It is also full of wisdom and tips about Iberian cooking, which, having never found a popular Anglophone exponent as French cuisine did in Julia Child, remains faintly exotic in this country. Naturally the book gives several good paella recipes, including one with prawns, chickpeas, and ñora peppers, as well as several interpretations of the pasta brought to Iberia by the Arabs and known to the Spanish as fideo. The paella-like dish made with this pasta (if you can find it, and you can find it at The Spanish Table) is called fideuá.
No discussion of cookbooks would be complete without mention of at least one volume consecrated to dessert. For me that volume is Emily Luchetti's Four Star Desserts (HarperCollins, 1996), the title referring to her long run as pastry chef at Stars. (She's had a comparable run at Farallon.) My copy: gravely spattered. Many are the times I've made the bitter-orange crèmes caramels (though often not with bitter orange but some other interesting citrus), not to mention the banana tarte tatin and Key lime pie. Although the book features a fair amount of vivid photography, the recipes I like the most and use most often do not include photographs. For a more sweeping compendium of Luchetti recipes, there's Classic Stars Desserts (Chronicle Books, 2007), a kind of greatest-hits album that includes the secrets of Stareos, the famous Stars cookies. A discreet aside here to you inveterate porndogs: Stareos and other cookies can be eaten with one hand. *