I found a copy of the first edition of The Joy of Cooking tossed out with someone's trash yesterday (!), went home and flipped through it for a few hours. I lost my copy last year and I forgot how amazing this book is.
I love the approach: ingredient, concise intro passage, a few recipes. I love the little diagrams and how thoroughly it discusses the preparation of meats. The author surely looked to Escoffier's tome as a model.
I told a friend about it and he said his dad just got a copy of Silver Spoon, which apparently is the "Italian Joy of Cooking." I'm looking forward to picking that up, and in the meantime I'm wondering if other cuisines have similarly encyclopedic cookbooks, and if they've been translated to English or not.