From red beans and rice to scuppernong-glazed carrots, travel and food writer Fred Thompson has written a heartfelt love letter to the power of side dishes. Thompson's 250 recipes recommend the virtues of utterly simple, yet surprising, food. Twelve chapters, richly illustrated in color, feature an array of produce, grains and beans, fish and meats and are enhanced by Thompson's humorous observations and southern tales. Recipes include Fennel Hash, Grilled Okra, White Acre Pea Salad and Beer-Braised Cabbage. Straightforward cooking tips are also provided by Thompson, who divides his time between Raleigh and New York City. The book also offers menus for special occasions throughout the year. For example, Asparagus Frites is suggested for Easter. "Fred Thompson's Southern Sides" is published by the University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. Hardback, 334 pages, $35.