Sweet-talking Jewish history

On the shelves barely in time for Rosh Hashana, which begins at sundown Friday, Sept. 29, is the new book by author, chef, historian and rabbi Gil Marks: "The World of Jewish Desserts: More Than 300 Delectable Recipes From Jewish Communities From Alsace to India" (Simon & Schuster, $30, 384 pages).

More than an abundance of sweet talk, the 12 chapters offer an exploration into Jewish history and culture, with bits and pieces connecting ingredients and customs from the past to the present state of multicultural assimilation. Marks' dessert dissertation caps his 1996 main course, "The World of Jewish Cooking" (Simon & Schuster).

Released on Sept. 15, the new book is just finding its way into bookstores, but can be overnighted from online brokers if you're in a rush for a Rosh Hashana contribution. Or plan ahead for Yom Kippur (Oct. 9) and Hanukkah (Dec. 22).