About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, March 23, 2009
Joy of Cooking

How does one, a non American, begin to write about Joy of Cooking, an American icon and institution?

Simple really, listen to the words of Marion Becker and Irma Rombauer, who instructed in their very first edition, 75 years ago, to “stand facing the stove”, a wonderfully practical metaphor for beginning the task at hand. Written in a plain unassuming tone, it sets novice cooks at immediate ease.

Joy is a book that was born from adversity, the suicide of a husband and the Great Depression and is a testament to the indomitable will of Irma Rombauer, who would no doubt be smiling at the irony of this anniversary edition being published at the time of another great financial crisis sweeping the world, sending people scurrying back to their kitchens in order to economise.

That this cookbook will stand them in good stead is unquestioned; it’s far more than a collection of recipes, though there are some 4,500 of them, it’s also a teaching and reference resource, without which, no kitchen library could ever be considered complete.

Joy is always the first book I reach for when wanting to know more about a particular ingredient or technique. An earlier edition of this book taught me how to successfully (and easily) roast a turkey and the same tried and true instructions will still there for the next generation of cooks. There are no difficult to understand commands or chef's speak, it’s more like having a friend beside you in the kitchen, gently nudging you in the right direction.

That’s the charm of this book, its friendliness. Using Joy is like wearing a sensible pair of walking shoes that let you walk as far or as little as you like.

It was from this book that I learnt that the addition of sugar syrup to the other ingredients is what makes a frozen margarita a perfect drink for a hot day and the explanation of how to go about tequila shots ends with the sage advice...'repeat the process as often as good sense allows.'

This 75th anniversary edition has been updated with new recipes, certain chapters deleted from earlier editions have been restored, though it must be said that some parts are in need of better revision - the section on truffles, for instance, states that they defy cultivation, which was true until recent times.

That aside, there can be no greater praise than to say if I was only allowed one cookbook, Joy of Cooking would be it. It is the one cookbook that I would unhesitatingly recommend for any cook just starting out, having stood the test of time for the last 75 years.

Joy of Cooking, published by Simon & Schuster Inc

  posted at 9:10 am

At 6:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad this a cooking blog.

At 10:47 pm, Blogger Frankster said...

Yes, in the same vein as the first comment, does this also have clear instructional line drawings starring "the hairy man" as the other (not quite so historical) 70's "American paperback icon and institution"? ;)

At 1:12 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I have four copies I think. One was my grandmothers and one my mother-in-laws. You called it like it is. Love that: sage advice...'repeat the process as often as good sense allows.'

At 11:31 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchen hand, sometimes I am too.

Hi towser, the hairy man as in that scene from the 40 year old virgin? Much too painful.

Hi tanna, bet you cherish every copy. I've two now that I've done the review. Whenever I want information it's the book I reach for first, despite having several other good resource books; with apologies to Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, as interesting as it is, it's just not in the same league.

At 12:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I moved into my first apartment, in my third year at university, I received my first copy of Joy as a gift from my mom. I now have three editions of Joy on my bookshelf; each revised edition adds so much that's new, but I still refer to the older editions for the great how-to instructions and tips on things like how to remove red wine stains or truss a chicken.

At 10:26 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi lydia, my first copy was a gift from my daughter and I was really happy to get it. One Xmas it literally saved the turkey from some hopeless cooking instructions from the supplier, I always use their method.

At 9:44 am, Blogger Matt. Tara. Addi. Roslyn. said...

I really enjoy your blog and love the recipes and great tips you share! I recently started a small food storage business and have created a website dedicated to helping people build up their emergency food supply. We were wondering if you would be willing to put a link to our site from yours. Our site is http://www.foodstoragedepot.com. Feel free to check it out and see what you think. You can put the link anywhere you feel that it would not distract from your own information. If this is something that you are interested in please contact me at this email address (taraivers@gmail.com) and we would be glad send you some of our product or you can pick an item from http://www.outersports.com. Thanks,

At 6:43 am, Blogger Gigi said...

Something tells me (and it could be my husband) that I should have read this cookbook years ago. Perhaps it's not too late.

So I should be facing the stove...hmn...

At 7:25 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi matthew and tara, good luck with that.

Hi gigi, dead right, there are absolutely no preconceived ideas!


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