Here's a list of terrific cookbooks and essays on Americanregional food. If you can't always eat at that fabulous roadhouse you found on the backroads somewhere, you can turn on some music, turn up the heat, and try to recreate it at home...

U.S.A. Cookbook
by Sheila Lukins (Workman Publishing, May 1997). One terrific mouthful ofAmericana: Blue Wally pancakes, buttermilk fried chicken, Shaker cranberry brisket.

Smokestack Lightning
by Lolis Eric Elie (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). A slick volume on thelusty subject of barbecue that puts forth a poetic exploration of the pitmaster's art, with evocative photos, recipes, and a listing of America'sbest BBQ joints.

Steak Lover's Cookbook
by William Rice (Workman Publishing, April 1997). What could be more Americanthan a perfectly done T-bone?Mouthwatering recipes and a rundown of steakhavens.

Serious Pig: An American Cook in Search of His Roots
by John Thorne with Matt Lewis Thorne (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). TheAmerican food essay: baked, fried, and barbecued to perfection. Meditationson everything from crawfish étouffée to Maine potatoes.

Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern (HarperPerennial)This state-by-stateguide, published in 1992, remains a bible for anyone with a passion forthe vernacular. Look for the authors' new volume, Eat Your Way Acrossthe U.S.A., due in June from Broadway Books.