Books: PRESENTATION PIECES

MOST gift books are glossy of cover, bland of content, irreproachably expensive. They are intended to flatter rather than to instruct or entertain.

But books can make fine gifts. Herewith a sampling of costlier presentation pieces that deserve to be read (or looked at), not just given.

LAROUSSE GASTRONOMIQUE, by Prosper Montagné (1,101 pp.; Crown: $20). In this large, well-illustrated American edition of the famous French encyclopedia of food and cooking are recipes for almost everything edible, definitions of culinary terms, and such curiosa as a description of what Louis XIV liked to...

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