Thumbnail sketches (without recipes) of several dozen cuisines from China to Peru. The likes of Zambia and Laos receive brief paragraphs of description; more familiar gastronomic realms are treated to comparatively leisurely once-overs, with descriptive listings of well-known specialties and some attention to local wines or other beverages. As one might expect, the quality of the information and the aptness of the selections vary. Predictably, France and Italy fare best, and it is also nice to see our own culinary habits put into a matter-of-fact global perspective. Some realms make out less happily. Kulebiaka, a Russian pie consisting of left, over anything in any kind of dough that suits it, is oddly described as ""Salmon mousse, baked with a flaky pastry dough."" The wonderful breads and G'selchtes (smoked meats and sausages) of Vienna are not mentioned, but all sorts of attention is paid to the city's sweet confections. On the other hand, Hillman is very good at summing up such extraculinary matters as marketing and agricultural trends--the sort of information that is worth half the cookbooks ever printed. He also provides excellent correctives to many silly notions, like the American idea of ""Polynesian"" food. Necessarily skimpy, but sane and middling useful.