I've had this book for quite a few years now and I still find it as suprising, fascinating, and wonderful as when I first bought it.
What do the origins of the word sycophant, hangover cures, the botany of the daisy family, the chemical structure of alkaloids and Maclolm X have in common? Yup, they all appear in this book!
As well as being a treasure trove of information on the history and science behind food, cooking techniques, ingredients, physiology and diet, it has also given me a greater apreciation of what I'm doing in the kitchen and why, e.g. now I apreciate what is going on on a molecular level when a sauce is being made, I've really improved the techniques that I use and as a result, make better sauces. This book may only have a few recipies included, and they are only there to show how cooking has changed through the ages, but this has been the most useful book on cooking that I've ever owned.
I think that this book has made me a better cook at the same time as being an interesting and entertaining read. It is to cooking as Brewers Dictonary of Phrase and Fable is to the English language.