I'd always wanted this encyclopaedia. I'm not a chef but love cooking and I am always fascinated by techniques that I know nothing about. This tome is huge and is fantastic for just leaving around so you can just pick it up and read random facts about anything of culinary significance - whether its some miniscule fact about what the Romans called cheese or butchery facts about cuts of meat you've never heard of! This book perfectly complements the aspirational dreamworld that wannabe chefs and kitchen geeks inhabit and, interspersed with episodes of "pan-porn" as my family have christened my drooling over casserole dishes and gleaming Maslin pans in shop windows, this book is a fabulous addition to anyone's kitchen bookshelf. If nothing else it is heavy enough and deep enough to provide you with a small step up to reach obscure ingredients that you rarely use from the topshelf of your cupboard! More importantly, this is a treasure of knowledge and inspiration that could turn a dilettante cook like me into something much more substantial and competent in the kitchen! The only misleading thing about the book was it's endorsement by Gordon Ramsay who said it was "The first recipe book I took seriously...a great resource throughout my career"...I didn't find a single swear word so that was a relief. A beautiful book and now one of my treasured possessions!