Cookbooks may very well be the most universally appealing gift. The photography is beautiful, there are various levels of expertise, and virtually unlimited types of cuisine. Even if the recipient may not necessarily cook often, a gorgeous cookbook can always be used as a coffee table book, or a point of interest on a bookshelf.
For someone moving to a new place, they can be a comforting reminder of home. After a trip, a souvenir of a memorable meal. Cookbooks are also a particularly good gift when you may not know the recipient well (for example, coworkers or in-laws).