A miscellaneous collection of information and advice on food buying, preparation, and storage designed to end such kitchen bafflements as: ""How do you know the jelly has reached the jellylike point?"" and ""What makes a cake fall in the middle?"" Much of the wisdom and most of the recipes are secondhand borrowings from Julia Child and James Beard and some of it -- such as the Department of Agriculture endorsement of monosodium glutamate as ""completely safe"" -- should be taken with a heap of salt. Standard conversion tables for measurements in grams and liters are sandwiched in between culinary etymologies esoteric and otherwise, e.g., an 18th century street vendor called his soups restoratives -- whence restaurant. And if you are perchance interested in the Turkish origins of sherbet you need look no further. On the other hand a glance through the spice rack reveals that the author omits cumin, coriander, sage, dill and others. Reluctantly we conclude that as a guide it's halfbaked.