For recipes, food history, ideas, and techniques, Larousse Gastronomique: Encyclopedia of Food, Wine, and Cooking has is all, and then some. First published in France in 1938 by Librairie Larousse, it was edited by chef Prosper Montagne, with the collaboration of Dr. Gottschalk (poor Dr. Gottschalk often is forgetten in discussions of the Gastronomique!).
French, classic cooking master Auguste Escoffier wrote a preface, as did Phileas Gilbert. Escoffier's grand reference Le Guide Culinaire is still in use today
in cooking schools throughout the world.
Larousse has gone through several editions and reprints, both in French and other languages; it first appeared in English in 1961.
There is a new 2009 English edition, the first since 1988.
As many others do, I love to open the Larousse at any page and browse.
The encyclopedia offers over 32 pages of hors-d'oeuvre, both hot and cold - perfect for a soiree. Some are light finger foods, like canapes with anchovy or Bayonne ham and parsley. More substantial and needing a fork are timbales and sardines in oil.
Serving wine at a soiree? Larousse has an extensive section on wine, wine regions, and charts outlining the serving of which wines with which foods. Maybe a nice Sauternes or Montrachet with those canapes!