Cook Your Way around the World at Yuletide"" is the worst sort of food-columnist's cliche, but this amiable effort (by a London Times features editor) makes you forget the fact. The sheer eclecticism of the selection (Norway to Nicaragua) leads one to expect the worst, and it is true that you can find more informative recipes for Pithiviers (a French confection of puff pastry with an almond filling) and less insistently flavored versions of Salzburger Nockerl. But in fact Poole's international ambitions stop well within the bounds of good sense. The British Isles, Scandinavia, and Mitteleuropa provide the preponderance of her material, with a few carefully chosen borrowings from Africa and the Western Hemisphere. Her recipes are neither the most laboriously authentic nor the most glibly debased available versions of the dishes she presents; they are reasonably honest portrayals of honest food instead of culinary chichi. There are many fine side dishes such as fiercely seasoned Nigerian brown rice or a Finnish casserole of potatoes caramelized by slow cooking; there are imaginative selections of recipes for roast goose (France to Czechoslovakia) or suckling pig (Spain and the Caribbean); there are a 19th-century English and a recent Swedish recipe for brawn; there are such fish specialties as Czech carp in black bean sauce, Hungarian fish soup made with the fish liver and roe, Roman-style eel stew with green peas. An irresistible compilation.