Despite the title, the ordinary kitchen ignoramus won't get much out of this effusive, irreverent primer. Those who will are a) natural distrusters of authority and b) veteran cooks who can appreciate its general horse-sense and attention to what Robert Farrar Capon once called the notes that aren't on the piano. With much gusto and noisy reassurance, Scher takes you from How To Burn Toast (see, no subsequent failure can be quite THAT bad) through the way ingredients feel when mixed with water and squished between the fingers, the logistics of actually moving around a kitchen doing things in not-too-screwed-up order, and the simple adventure of putting in a seasoning and seeing how it tastes. The text frolics from one thing to another with only the barest nod to any progression of expertise, and can be dipped into at any point with about equal disorientation. The style is cuter than need be, and there are distracting mnemonic gimmicks. Still, there's much to be said for anyone who refuses to label his cooking suggestions ""recipes,"" tells you to banish measuring spoons from your initial fumblings, and reminds you that a simple ingredient like wheat is supposed to have a real flavor of its own. Those of the right, unconventional mind-set could actually learn to cook from this book.