I came across a copy of The New Larousse Gastronomique at Goodwill for $2. It’s the 1977 edition in pretty good shape for its age. Only a little damage to the top of the spine, and a small amount of water damage to the bottom edge of a few of the pages towards the back. Not bad for two bucks, the latest version is from 2009 here at Amazon for $57!
Since its first publication in 1938, Larousse Gastronomique has been an unparalleled resource. In one volume, it presents the history of foods, eating, and restaurants; cooking terms; techniques from elementary to advanced; a review of basic ingredients with advice on recognizing, buying, storing, and using them; biographies of important culinary figures; and recommendations for cooking nearly everything.
If you like to cook, this book is a great resource. There are nice alphabet illustrations at the beginning of each chapter and nicely drawn diagrams like this one, breaking down exactly where all the cuts of meat come from.
It is also filled with a few wonderful full color images in each chapter. I love the bright green kitchen, it’s a much nicer green than the avocado green from the 70’s, with the awesome orange cookware on the stove!
And of course food shots of fancy party food, colorful vegetables and crusty breads along with pictures of terrines containing various potted meats for slicing, and of course snails. Platters of huge escargot! I have to admit I included these photos because both of these foods are things that I am not brave enough to eat, but look strangely appealing.