Hillman has traveled the world in search of great peasant food, and he makes it clear that no mere armchair gourmet can duplicate his experience: ""I are my first couscous in an unbaked-brick farmhouse outside Tangiers on July 10, 1956. . . the day Morocco regained its independence. . . and my host, in his best djellaba, slaughtered one of his fatted lambs for the occasion."" He enjoyed I'a Ota (fresh tuna and tilefish marinated in lime juice) on Bora-Bora, ""the fairest tropical island l've ever had the pleasure of exploring,"" and tasted the marinated spiced lamb Roghan John on a houseboat in Kashmir, ""a veritable paradise on earth."" But you may well savor the mozzarella in carrozza included here even without the ""scent of fermenting grapes [that] hung in the air"" when he shared it with the owners of a small vineyard outside Naples. And even when the ethnic masterpieces are already familiar, Hillman may convince you that his version is the one to try: ""I've tasted ground nut stew up and down West Africa' before selecting this one; and ""Several years ago I realized a suppressed desire: I drove through the back roads of rural Languedoc in search of the perfect cassoulet."" And so it goes, whether Hillman is presenting his choice among Toads-in-the-Hole (""Yorkshire cooks seem to prepare the best versions"") or certifying ""one of the best"" renditions of Nase Goreng from Bali, ""a land of superlatives."" No slouch at superlatives himself, Hillman has come up with recipes to match the blurbs.