Thomas, food editor at the Orange County Register, along with the proprietors of Melissa's World Variety Produce, a major distributor of specialty fruits and vegetables, has created a comprehensive-but not overwhelming-manual that explains how to find, store, prepare and serve fruits, from Asian pear to yuzu, and vegetables, from artichoke to yu choy sum. Brilliant color photos render the food tantalizing and make it easy for readers to identify the produce piled high in their grocery store's aisles. Thomas explains the differences between varieties of grapes, mushrooms, onions and peas (check for scent, heft, texture and hue) and provides a primer on the exotic horned melon, with recipes for using it in margaritas, on ice cream and in salad dressing. Her tone is affable and knowledgeable ("Basically, quince look like squatty pears"), and her recipes are creative yet not too complicated. A glossary of "gizmos" includes instructions for segmenting citrus and using other tools. This is an excellent resource and valuable tool for cooks experienced and amateur; the only improvement might be a pocket-sized edition for easy toting to the grocery store. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.