OP still hasn't returned to thread...
The following cookbook recommendations assume that she lives in the US.
If she is dedicated, and likes traditional European food, then I will add my name to the list for The Way To Cook
. It was my first serious cookbook, and between the photographs and the text, is an incredibly straightforward guide.
If she's a natural experimenter, thrifty and interested in American home cooking and regional cuisines - and likes to read good prose - then I'd suggest starting with any book by John Thorne. Simple Cooking
is an easy way in. Similarly straightforward and readable books are Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking
and Miriam Ungerer's Good Cheap Food
If she likes Italian, then she can't go wrong with Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
. Apologies to OliverB that it doesn't contain any photos, but it is extremely easy to follow and very reliable. But if she's starting from a position of ignorance, it's essential that she read the introductory chapters on ingredients and techniques.
For (Delhi) Indian, Madhur Jaffrey's An Invitation To Indian Cooking
or Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking
If she's into Mexican, Chinese or Thai cooking, there are a wealth of cookbooks out there but with the exception of Fucshia Dunlop they may be for the more advanced cook.
I'd agree with other posters that Bittman's How To Cook Everything might be a bit much to start with. The Joy of Cooking, at least for me, is more of a reference book than a guide - albeit one I consult frequently.
edit: A possible more modern, multicultural possibility, with lots of photos, would be David Tanis, A Platter of Figs
. Or for Italian food with a touch of England, The River Cafe Cookbook
Edited by patrickamory, 30 December 2011 - 08:49 PM.