On Christmas 2006, my mother received the 75th anniversary edition of The Joy of Cooking. Since then, it has has developed a well-worn history, for many meals in my family. Although my mom hardly has a family to cook for anymore, with my parent’s usual eating habits quite sparse, it is stilled pulled out every holiday and regularly enough when she makes homemade bread and my dad is cooking stock.
While almost all of you know who Julia Child is- thank you Meryl Streep- I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the name Irma Rambauer. The name doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so easily, yet her cookbook is a virtual puppet master, weighing over generations of chefs. Her recipes were collected, tested and illustrated with her daughter’s help, and first published in 1931. The end result is an anthology of everything but the kitchen sink. For myself, as a cook who loves to try from the very beginning, the book is exceptional at explaining the ins and outs of making from scratch. There’s instructions on doughs and pastas, stocks, canning, pickling, even table setting and entertaining etiquette. More importantly, it’s not written severely and without humor, but reads intimately and with encouragement. You’re capable of successfully making braised lamb, even though it’s your first day on the job.
So, when I’m in pursuit of a well-made and wholesome- in every sense of the word- meal, I turn to The Joy of Cooking. And for as low as $15, this 1072-page book is essential for cooks learning the ropes, bettering their craft, or staying masters of their domain. Don’t believe me? Read the note on page one from Julia Child.
There’s also a facsimile version of the 1931 edition. I intend to own both copies.