I love to cook, and I have a decent library of cookbooks of all types. Not only that, but these days I get recipes and inspiration from a number of great sites on the internet. That being said, The Joy of Cooking is one of the two or three always there, always handy, gotos when I want information.
I had used The Joy of Cooking (probably the 1975 edition) throughout the 1980s and 1990s; and then lost it with the breakup of a relationship. During our first Christmas together, the Everloving gave me the 1997 edition which now, twenty years later, is dirty and drip-stained through constant use. Some of the pages have even come loose through excessive visiting. There are only a few recipes that I use straight up these days (pizza dough, pancake batter, chicken stir fry, Spencered fish, a few others) but it is a constant source of great knowledge and assistance about technique, and the handling of less common meats, vegetables, and fruits.
So I was pleased to see that a new edition of the classic upon us, still edited by the family — this time by John Becker, great-grandson of Irma Rombauer (the originator), grandson of Marion Rombauer Becker, and son of Ethan Becker who produced the last version. John Becker and his wife Megan Scott have updated the book for the 21st century while retaining the family style — the action method — that generations of cooks have learned to trust since 1931.
There is an interesting interview with John Becker at Literary Hub which gives us much family history and explores the methodology of updating so many classic recipes.
“I think that this addition, we really were trying to kind of go back to the way that Marian and Irma revised, kind of being responsible, basically personally responsible, for everything in there. In the last few editions, despite some great contributors and work, there was a disconnect and you could tell. There were just too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. We felt we needed to do this ourselves, to go back to what made the 1975 such a good book.”
I’ll stick with my collapsing old copy but I am sure the new edition will be a great hit for new and old cooks both.