Unevenly but more often than most cookbooks, this charming work addresses the fact that peasant cooking has always been the cooking of agricultural laborers unaware that peasantry would ever be chic. Luard's array of some 300 well-written recipes has all the solid, vivid things that right-minded persons always prefer to turbot in champagne sauce: colorful vegetable stews, garlicky fish soups, melted cheese dishes, bright midsummer garden salads, and stick-to-the-ribs potato messes. (Expect some British kitchen terminology.) Lively snippets of background (e.g., 19th-century travellers' reports) stud the chapters. Unfortunately, Luard's grasp varies. Spain, southern France, and the Balkans come off best. Russian, Polish, and Baltic cooking go virtually unmentioned. Sample culinary errors: no proper Italian cook would add all the liquid at once to a risotto; Tafelspitz is never made with the cuts of beef that Luard mentions, and belongs on the tables of rich Viennese, not peasants. On balance: though the author struggles less than ideally with a subject too large for one person to handle accurately, and does in many ways fudge the issue of just what ""peasant"" means (English jam pudding? Heavens!), many cooks who just want a lot of inviting recipes will revel in this flavorful book.