This book is fantastic. I could (& very well am) reading it from cover to cover.
It is published in hardcover under the title of The Oxford Companion to Food and won the James Beard Food lit award.
This book may be old news to a lot of the chowhound membership but for those of you who haven't - I heartily reccomend it.
Within this encyclopedia of all things culinary is a treasure trove of knowledge pertaining to the discipline we all love.
I am particularly fond of the sweeping country entries as well as the generous space given to food history.
This is the paperback edition and is at a much more reasonabler $30 for a student's budget.
It definitly proves itself as a trustworthy resource when chowhound cannot provide you answers and it also gives you a leg up when the terminology sometimes used on this website (i.e. what the heck is balut? ;]) becomes complicated or confusing.
I find it hard to rip myself away from it --suddenly realizing its 1 am and I better hit the sac.