Marks, who specializes in exploring oddly neglected culinary realms (Indonesia, Guatemala, the ethnic minorities of India), does his usual tidy job with this great hodgepodge of races and cultures. Elements of Thai, Indian, and Chinese cooking appear in the roughly 230 recipes, but they really belong to no category but their own. Particularly interesting are the various homemade condiments and fermented preparations--lime pickle, black bean-paste chutney, a bean curd made from chickpea flour rather than crashed soybeans. There are many attractive fritters, soups, stir-fries, and curries--the last, of course, featuring varied combinations of spices, not commercial curry powders. Some of the most inviting-sounding things here: rice cooked in coconut milk, steamed pork loaf, several stuffed pancakes, double-fried fish with a spicy onion mixture. What keeps this a notch or two below first-rate is the skimpiness of the general con text. Everything has been briskly adapted to the convenience-equipped US kitchen, leaving only occasional hints of how the original cooks went about it. There is disappointingly little guidance on how to get out-of-the-way ingredients or tools (palm sugar, village coconut grater) if you aren't a food-savvy New Yorker. The numbered-step recipes are far less precise than they look--what consistency do you want when you stir the eggs into a fascinating-looking duck soup-stew? A welcome book indeed, despite that missing dash of culinary/intellectual curiosity. Anyone interested in other southeast Asian cuisines will find plenty of good cooking.