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The New England Table
By Lora Brody
Chronicle Books, 2005
ISBN 0811843491
Review By William I. Lengeman III

As Bostonian Lora Brody points out, "it's physically possible to dine in each New England state in the course of one long day". But for those who prefer to forego the hurry and scurry and the wear and tear on the car you might do just as well to settle back and make a few selections from Brody's book.

It's a work that takes a look at "the bounty of the Northeast", a bounty that is "vast and varied". The states touched on here are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Though not a large region, considering that it encompasses six states, it's a surprisingly diverse one. Each state has it's own unique character, as Brody notes. There's Connecticut, "the contented matron", Rhode Island, "a brazen little state", Massachusetts, "a state of contrasts" and so on.

Things kick off with Massachusetts and a Rockport Breakfast that includes Firecracker Bacon as one of it's many delights. A Tanglewood Picnic features a Hummus Focaccia In Honor of Yo-Yo Ma and relates the anecdote that led to the creation of this specialty. Also on deck is the Hearty Boston Marathon Supper with Boston Baked Beans and Bagged Brisket. Then there's the fairly traditional Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving Dinner, a 7-course affair that adds one historically inaccurate dish, sweet potatoes.

Then it's on to the Nutmeg State - Connecticut - and the Mystic Seaport Memorial Day Breakfast, a Tailgate Lunch with Crimson Slaw and Nutmeg Cookies, a Connecticut Valley Early Spring Supper with Saut&eacut;ed Shad Roe and Steamed Fiddlehead Ferns and a Litchfield County Al Fresco Dinner.

The recipes in tiny Rhode Island's chapter are centered around Newport Breakfast On A Sailboat, a Vineyard Lunch and Dinner on the Hill. In New Hampshire, it's the Center Harbor Ice-Fishing Derby Breakfast, which includes Red Flannel Salmon Hash and Fireball, a cocktail that contains brandy and cinnamon, among other things. The Appalachian Trail Backpacker's Picnic features such appropriate selections as Gorp and Fig Date Bars, while the Fourth of July Firehouse Barbecue includes Three-Cabbage Slaw and Cheddar-Stuffed Burgers on Roasted Garlic Bread.

From there it's over to Vermont for a Sugar House Breakfast and an Apres Cross-Country Skiing Lunch, featuring Smoked Turkey Sandwiches on Cranberry-Pecan Quick Bread. Other Vermont feasts include the Northeast Kingdom Town Meeting Potluck Supper.

Finally it's up to Maine for the Rangeley House Lakeside Breakfast, the Jordan Pond House Tea and the Bar Harbor Lobster Dinner, which includes a Lobster Stew and Bacon Batter Bread.

This is a great collection of well-organized recipes from a region that seems to be maintaining at least a semblance of culinary diversity. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the striking full-page photographs by Susie Cushner. Worth a look.

Food writer William I. Lengeman III maintains Tea Guy Speaks, a daily Web site, and Tea Industry News, a weekly newsletter. More information at his home page - http://wileng3.blogspot.com

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