The "Food Lover's Companion" is a chunky dictionary-style reference of nearly 6,000 food, drink, and culinary terms for the beginning cook to the gourmet chef. Author Sharon Tyler Herbst has added terms, updated most listings, and expanded the book's excellent Appendix for the 3rd edition. Pronunciation guides are provided for most terms. A mind-boggling array of culinary nouns, proper nouns, verbs and the occasional adjective are defined. As an example, on one page in the "B" section you will find definitions for: Boursin, bovolo, boxty, boysenberry, braciola, Braeburn apple, brains, braise, bramble, and bran. Terms are listed alphabetically, but it helps to read "How to Use This Book" in the first pages of the book for specific information on how terms are organized and cross-referenced. The "Food Lover's Companion" isn't entirely comprehensive; there are a couple of ethnic food terms that I couldn't find, and I don't agree with every definition. But this is the closest to being a comprehensive culinary reference as I have seen.
Although 687 pages of "Food Lover's Companion" are dedicated to defining culinary terms, the Appendix includes many useful charts and definitions, which some cooks will find just as valuable. Some of the Appendix's helpful features are: Ingredient Equivalents that give comparable amounts for different forms of nearly 200 foods, 37 Ingredient Substitutions, a Pan Substitution Chart that gives volumes for various sizes of pan so that you may find a suitable alternative, high altitude adjustments, oven temperature equivalents for Fahrenheit, celsius, British gas mark, and French gas settings, Smoke Points of Popular Oils, Fatty Acid Profiles of Popular Oils, approximate metric equivalents, metric conversion formulas, definitions of food label terms, a Pasta Glossary that describes 94 different pasta shapes, British and American differences in cooking terms, a list of consumer product information sources for various foods, seasoning suggestions, and an Additive Directory that explains the purpose of various chemical additives.
The "Food Lover's Companion" is a terrific reference for every level of cook. That obscure ingredient in your new Thai recipe and the incomprehensible term in your mother's WWII-era cookbook are both probably in here. It's interesting just to browse, too. The book has a slick paper cover that can be wiped off, but might have been better laminated. If you're wondering what distinguishes the "Food Lover's Companion" from Sharon Tyler Herbst's "Food Lover's Tiptionary", this book defines far more terms than the "Tiptionary", but does not include extensive preparation advice, cooking lessons, or recipes. For example, the "A" section of the "Food Lover's Companion" defines over 200 terms in dictionary style. The "A" section of the "Tiptionary", provides detailed purchasing, storing, cooking, general info, and recipes for 15 culinary topics.