June 17, 1985 12:00 PM

The first truly American cookbook, published in 1796, was entitled: American Cookery or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to Plain Cake. Adapted to This Country and All Grades of Life. By Amelia Simmons. The weight of this gastronomic bible is unrecorded. Publishers since then have become more opportunistic, if not pithier. Any literary agent worth his salt—and pepper—would have advised Miss Simmons that she had more than one volume: she had a series. Following is a taste of what today’s publishers are dishing out:

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