If you’ve got any bit of “food nerd” in you, you’ve got to check out Mr. McGee’s book. He breaks down everything about food and cooking, from why beans make you fart to how the addition of sugar turns an egg white foam into a beautiful meringue. He goes into great detail about all forms of ingredients (meats, vegetables/fruit, dairy, eggs, coffee/tea, herbs, grains, the list goes on) as well as the science behind many of the most common (as well as some uncommon) cooking techniques.
The book is very chemistry heavy, but Mr. McGee does such a great job of relating the science back to every day kitchen practice so it always remains light and interesting. The book itself is almost 900 pages (2nd Edition, copyright 2004) so you’re not reading this shit cover to cover. However, I find that when bored I can always pluck open a random chapter and find amusement and education therein. More importantly, though, whenever I’m trying a “cheffy” new technique (for instance, rescuing a separated egg emulsification) I can always count on a thorough explanation in these pages.
At worst even if the book doesn’t inspire you to do a whole bunch of cooking, between it and The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman you will know enough to sound like a world class chef.