If you forgot to clip Burros' recipe for whole baked garlic heads. . .or always meant to send her ""cement bagels"" piece on to your Aunt Minnie. . .or simply missed her weekly newspaper column the first time around--this collection of her favorite food-chat pieces might be for you. An unassuming and down-to-earth food writer in a field rife with pretension, Burros is far from indifferent to fads and fashions--witness her 1986 observations on ""The Color Purple in Vegetables"" or her year-end lists of foods on their way ""in"" and ""out."" But her real affection is for past fashions, ""comfort food,"" ""retrofood,"" and such homey stuff as mashed potatoes, leftover turkey, strawberry shortcake made with Bisquick, and Mother's medicinal chicken soup. Her childhood memories--of outings at the automat or birthday excursions for Italian ""abeetz""--seem to unlock similar memories in readers; and the letters she quotes here attest to a knack for eliciting heated reader response. A mild complaint about airline food (surely a dead horse, as even she had thought) drew support, but also indignation at her snobbery; and a more original observation, on how some Midwesterners butter their corn, inspired local surveys by insulted midwestern newspapers and numerous letters suggesting yet more ingenious ways to do the job. So: whether you ""nosh"" like New Yorkers or ""piece"" like some Midwesterners, you should be able to pull out a plum from Degustibus.