Craig Claiborne has already proclaimed publication as ""an event. . .almost as important as. . .Larousse Gastronomique. . ."" -- but we demur. Actually less of an encyclopedia than the indispensible Larousse but rather a working cookbook (if not quite ""practical"") for the specialist (the average and better than just competent will have little patience with instructions to use blood from a furred animal as a thickener). Nevertheless, Ali-Bab, pseudonym for a turn-of-the-century engineer, brought his trade's scientific precision to his recipes -- procedures that are just as valid today, as are some of his testy notions about entertaining.