Honest regional cookbooks like this are not easy to come by. Dent, a Denver-based food writer with an affection for the environs of Santa Fe, likes all or most of the lively changes that modern prosperity has rung on what evolved as hard-scrabble fare. His tastes range from good unpretentious old favorites like spoon-bread, posole (pork and hominy stew), chili con carne, green chili enchiladas, and sopaipillas with honey syrup to various untraditional (if not nouvelle) offshoots: molletes (sweet saffron buns) with butter instead of lard, turkey ""cured"" in a red chili marinade in a manner usually reserved for pork, a version of French tuiles Southwesternized with pine nuts instead of almonds. What is particularly valuable about these detailed, leisurely recipes--and what places the book way above Anne Greer's likable Cuisine of the American Southwest (1983)--is the sureness and sensitivity of historical insight that frames (but does not dictate) the presentation of every dish. He is careful to indicate the stages at which various Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo elements were introduced into Santa Fe cookery, and incidentally conveys much of his own informed pleasure in being able to draw on all of these different strata. How nice it would be to have this sort of intelligence applied to every regional cuisine.