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Editor and food writer Hesser (Cooking for Mr. Latte) selects 26 essays that originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine to conjure up foreign places and familiar people through tastes and smells. While some of the essays follow a classic Proustian remembrance-a pungent clove of garlic evokes Gary Shteyngart's escape from the bland boiled dinners of his parents' home in Little Neck, Queens, N.Y., and dizzying orange blossom oil stirs up embarrassing moments from Henry Alford's trip to Morocco-the collection's wide-ranging essays also include less conventional descriptions of meals, such as Ann Patchett's elusive word game with her future husband in the Paris restaurant Taillevent, where the conversation is memorable but the sole and a sublime dessert escape her recollection. Empty Tang bottles become a powerful signifier in Yiyun Li's China, and the sound of crashing pots and pans invites a memorable excursion with John Burnham Schwartz and his expat friends in Paris. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's faces a profound test of patience with a blind line cook emptying French fries into the drain, while George Saunders offers a hilarious and hyperbolic recipe for air. Illus. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.