Nothing is more important to food than the fat with which it's made. Whole cuisines can be categorized by the oils--or butter--upon which they're based. As this country, originally settled by butter-eaters, is learning, all oils are not created equal. Olive oils, for instance, vary incredibly in taste--fruitiness, acidity, bitterness--as well as weight. Now Williams-Sonoma lets you try before you buy. Their Highland Park Village store has an oil-and-vinegar bar that allows you to sample oils and vinegars before you cook or toss with them. Look forward to a summer of perfect salads.
--Mary Brown Malouf
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Williams-Sonoma, 51 Highland Park Shopping Village, Mockingbird and Preston, 696-0348.