I realize I'm not treading on new ground here with this gift; due to the imminent release of Julie & Julia, Julia Child's classic cookbook has again become wildly popular.
That being said, Mastering the Art of French Cooking is pretty much a masterpiece. It's definitely a cookbook every decent cook should have (I see this book lounging around on the shelf, self-importantly smoking Galoises). Really, though, the book's not that elitist. Sure, it's unlikely the giftee (like yours truly) will ever want to bone a duck. But the book's bursting with fundamentals, like clear instructions for basic sauces, without the infuriating food police objecting to loads of cream and butter. 'Cause, let's face it: eating isn't really worth it without some serious full fat involvement.
This book is ideal as a bridal gift, paired with, perhaps, the perfect saucier, which I'll discuss in some other entry. Plus, it's available on www.amazon.com for about 15 bucks off the hard cover price. And while it might not transform a French Klutz into a French Chef, it's a worthwhile tool toward food literacy.