Beard's collection of pasta recipes is far from exhaustive, but it is commendable for its careful directions, informed discussion of ingredients, and absence of pretension. Another distinction, in addition to the attractive variety of little-known but non-gimmicky more-or-less Italian dishes, is the sampling of recipes from other cuisines. Besides his basic recipe for pasta, with alternatives for making it by hand or by machine, Beard gives directions for making buckwheat noodles with beer (no eggs), Bulgarian shredded noodles, spatzle, spatzen, and more. Among the recipes are a Chinese noodle soup, Portuguese fish stew with orzo, wontons, beef and scallops with cellophane noodles, and a Pennsylvania Dutch chicken pot pie, the pot pies being noodle squares. Beard uses pastas in meat dishes, salads, and desserts in addition to featuring them in such favorites as spaghetti carbonara (with Smithfield ham, it must be good) and that ""American classic,"" macaroni and cheese. For tasty simplicity with style, try the lasagne with pesto; for sensation, the ""sublime"" frogs' legs tortelloni from the Four Seasons restaurant. Reliable, of course, and consistently tempting.