Generous gleanings from the newsletter of the same name, a one-man labor of love known to its subscribers for the sort of original, scratchily opinionated food writing--Pauline Kael among the rutabagas--that you sure aren't going to find in Gourmet. Take Thorne on cheesecake, whose secret he claims to be a pure, slightly tart simplicity: ""Why, then, the mob of monstrosities that clutter the cooking pages? Well, for one thing, it's called a cake, and cakes without frosting sell no cookbooks."" The five (and a half) recipes he then provides are innocent of any ""photogenic fruit preserves, flavorful-looking swirls, stripes, or layers"" aimed at ""sweet-toothed eaters."" Elsewhere, under the heading ""Worst Excesses of the '80s (to Date)"": ""What this country needs is Chef Paul Prudhomme's MOTHER'S Louisiana Kitchen"" (which we now almost have. See Prudhomme review, above.) But Thorne is as spirited in celebrating what he likes as in skewering what he doesn't. He is a connoisseur of olives, macaroni and cheese, boudin blanc; a lover of stuffed grape leaves Ã la almost anything; an ""Annotated Apple Pie"" man (""Flour belongs in the crust, not the pie""); an uncommonly thoughtful observer of cookbooks. His kvetching, cheering, and free-range recipe writing are a vigorous antidote to prevalent pablum. A welcome introduction of a one-of-a-kind culinary cult figure to a wider public.