With the advance of culinary specialization has come a new generation of cookbooks dedicated to exploring regional cuisines that once might have been lumped together under the general heading of ""Chinese"" or ""French."" This is one of the best of the lot. One can almost smell the essential quality of a region that is motherland to walnuts, Roquefort, truffles, and the celebrated geese, ducks, and pigs that furnish not only foie gras and Bayonne ham but the humbler underpinnings (even the cooking fats) of everyday farmhouse cooking. Wolfert, alas, also spends time on restaurant chefs d'oeuvres of the most artifical sort--like a garish ""fruit terrine"" that involves sliced kiwis, strawberries, and peaches embedded in a sort of almond mousse, the whole being encased in thin layers of genoise and dished up with both a custard sauce and a raspberry sauce. But this sort of stuff is mostly outweighed by the real food: Basque ttoro (the local fish stew), garlic soup with a dash of good vinegar, an interesting piperade, oxtails en daube, lamb with white beans and garlic sausage, and roasted figs with walnuts and honey. One way or other, this is fairly demanding food for skilled cooks with access to excellent and often specialized raw materials. The lengthy bibliography and detailed discussion of regional ingredients add much to the book's appeal, and Wolfert's highly personal approach to technique should provide serious cooks with insights not limited to this repertoire alone.