British author Elizabeth David belongs with Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher as a culinary giant of her generation. Her cookbooks were not haphazard collections of recipes, but profoundly researched tomes dedicated to the purity of authentic cuisines, the ageless pleasure of good eating. An OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE is, perhaps, the most personal of all her works. It is a compilation of three decades of her columns for various magazines -- but, more important, a book of her personal quest for wonderful food. The pilgrimage took her from her native England, to sunny France and Italy, to Greece, to Egypt, to the evocative flavors of bygone cities and ages. The essays take us to the quais of southern France in search of sardines, the kitchens of Italy and France, to little restaurants that exist no more, and to gardens that, like Paradise, are a remote memory in a modern world. But the book is perfect in evoking, recapturing, recreating a cuisine in the context of the life it is a part of. Take for instance her old friend, Norman Douglas. He was a character passionate about food. In eating a fig, he knew the exact garden in which it was grown, the tree, the branch it had been plucked from, the tempests and perfect sunny days that had visited it throughout its life. And for Elizabeth David, the search for the authentic sometimes led to the simplest places. The title essay has to do with the search for the perfect omelette -- and finally tracking down the famous Mere Poulard's authentic recipe...consisting only of eggs and a little butter. The glass of wine with the omelette is a kind of completion, the expression of the perfection of life lying in a kind of simplicity...an omelette and a glass of white wine. The river that runs through the book is this tireless pilgrimage through cuisine of all kinds, of all ages. In it, David herself accepts nothing half-rate, no half measures. In all, the reader will be satisfied, not only with the few recipes strewn throughout, but food that has a context of wonderful people, places, and times. Her other books are astounding, and are a must for any serious cook. Her English Bread and Yeast Cookery is the transcendently authoritative history of breads of all kinds in England. More useful in the kitchen are her French Country Cooking, French Provincial Cooking, Summer Cooking, and Mediterranean Food-- all of which contain a cornucopia of great recipes and wonderful flavors. David's cooking is a kind of patient perfection, not a guide to quick and easy cooking or a cuisine of substitutes, calorie-counting, low-fat remedies for the ills of the body. It is the cuisine of people who savor their food, appreciate it as art, love it for the context of good nourishment and good living it has in our lives.