The Coast News Group
Small Talk

There is joy in cooking afterall

I am simply delighted, because I owe an apology to “The Joy of Cooking” and its staff.

I recently reran an old column (OK, really old) about changes I heard they had made to my favorite, classic cookbook.

I did not recheck my facts. I swiftly received a polite but firm email from John Becker, editor and great-grandson of Edith Rombauer, the book’s original author. (Frankly, I was tickled he had even encountered my column.)

In my original column (from 1997), I was whining, having heard the book was going healthy, doing away with some of its older selections and, horror of horrors, replacing butter in many recipes. I insisted this was a bad idea.

It turns out they agree. The changes I first wrote about, had long ago been reconsidered and the cookbook I was raised on does, still, contain classic recipes with the classic ingredients.

A man after my own heart, Becker wrote, “Butter is an essential, life-giving substance in our household.

We call for it in our recipes all the time. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to flip a few pages of the book without seeing butter in an ingredient line (although the Beverages and Frozen Desserts chapters probably have a solid dozen pages that are butter-free). Butter is great. We use the word ‘butter’ over 1,500 times in the latest edition, published 2006. Oh, and our recipe for Baked Stuffed Heart is on page 520.”

So there you are. “Joy” has brought tradition into the 21st century. They even released an IOS app last year.

It was also fun to discover that “The Joy of Cooking” was a staple in more homes than just mine. One friend has her grandpa’s copy with his notes and jokes in all the margins. It is now a family heirloom. I have my mother’s copy, as well as my own, and I believe I need to give my new daughter-in-law the latest edition for Christmas. You just don’t know what weird cut of meat might go on sale, and a properly done White Sauce can make even marginal cooks like me look good.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who stands deliciously corrected. Contact her at [email protected]