Breezy, sassy essays on eating from the coauthor of The Official Foodie Handbook (1984): much literate observation and glib charm. Levy, who as food columnist for the Observer (source of many of these pieces) holds forth as England's brisker and less brummagem Gael Greene, must be a live wire of a dinner companion. Barging around the globe in search of insights into roots and offshoots, he samples dog (with Mateus rosÃ‰ wine) in Macao, documents Escoffier and CÃ‰sar Ritz's joint involvement in a fin-de-siÃ‰cle kickback scandal at the Savoy Hotel, and observes a team of French superstars turning a guest stint at a New Delhi hotel into ""an international misunderstanding on the scale of what happened to Miss Quested in the Malabar caves."" There are chipper first-person reports on a whole hatful of reducing regimens, and assorted visits to Levy's own kitchen--""The last room in the house where I want to see my wife."" A dozen profiles archly indulge public curiosity about those who cook or write on food, from Elizabeth David (whose subtle plainness Levy can't resist fussing and poking over) to--Barbara Cartland, who spent an entire four days writing The Romance of Food. All told: a nimble wit gamboling through 57 column-length capers that sometimes could do more to satisfy your appetite, but rarely bore.