Food has inspired writers even more than it has gourmands, and in this winning collection they sing of its joys, small and great--Swift on the oyster, Neruda on the artichoke, Hardy on a pat of butter. From the Bible and Upanishad to Updike, literary lovers of fish, fowl, bread, meat and even vegetables, wax ecstatic and bring wisdom, humor and insight to the comestible cosmos. There are collages to help whet one's appetite, but expect no recipes: this is, rather, a tome to curl up with, or to sample as you would a fresh oyster. Those who have not thought of food as anything but sustenance will soon discover what the most casual gourmet has always known--food is all, everything, life, light, inspiration and even representation of God. In fact, God and food constantly are entwined. In all cultures, food plays an intimate, unifying role, bringing the family together at meals and helping its members express love and care for each other. There are dark sides to eating, however, and several of the contributors lament the slaughter of animal life for the table and indict man's cruelty. Great fun and a book to treasure along with other classics in the literature of food. A most nourishing experience.