With her emphasis on pragmatic use of fresh ingredients at their seasonal best, Perla Meyers (The Seasonal Kitchen, 1973; The Peasant Kitchen, 1975) has undoubtedly been one of the saner recent influences in American cooking. This imposing collection covers some of the same territory. It is introduced by a discussion of the art of intelligent shopping, with ingredient-by-ingredient suggestions. Though clear and sensible, this material does not always go far beyond what one might find in a work like The Joy of Cooking; specific discussions of, e.g., the difference between varieties of avocado are a little meager. The value of the work as a guide to marketing varies oddly. There is a great deal of excellent information, but then one will look in vain for anything about how to buy parsley root (used in a very nice recipe for lamb shanks) or what sort of chicken is best for a good chicken soup. The recipes (about 300) are a fine and varied selection, somewhat weighted toward aggressively seasoned effects. Dijon mustard, tomatoes, and other sharply flavored ingredients figure largely in the sauces for many main dishes, and rosemary, thyme, and marjoram are introduced with what some might think too unsubtle a hand. Though there are some pleasantly simple preparations (some of the best being in the pasta chapter), most of this is for cooks with no illusions about easy instant results. Spirited fare; sound though not encyclopedic advice.