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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Cookbook for the Ages

Everything you ever wanted to know about food
Posted by: Alana T.

I bought my copy (circa 1972) of The Joy of Cooking soon after finishing my first semester of Home Ec. in 1979. My teacher said everyone should have a copy, so I dutifully bought one. My copy of The Joy was so much more than a cookbook, it was an encyclopedia of everything food related. In those pages I could find out how to set a formal table, skin a rabbit or prepare a seven layer cake. In addition to the vast quantity information, the quirky, upbeat 50's style illustrations made all forms of food preparation seem carefree and cheerful.

My original copy was spiral bound which, although useful in the kitchen, became a problem when pages started falling out. That first copy lasted relatively intact until 2005, when I finally tired of shuffling through my bundle of rubber banded pages to find something. I went to the bookstore to buy a new copy, but horror of horrors, The Joy had been totally redesigned! It had become a totally different book, and not one I wanted. The book had been modernized, so no more quirky pictures, fewer topics, less detail - I was devastated.

My "new" old copy of The Joy
I kept my bundle of yellowing pages, resigned to its continued degradation. Then one day a wonderful, unknown patron donated a box of old books to the library. In that box, was a perfect hardbound copy of the 1969 edition of The Joy. Wow! The library already owned a copy of the old edition, so we didn't keep the donation (we also have the latest edition).  I took the new, old cookbook home in a daze of happiness. Each time I'm in the kitchen and glance over at that lovely robin's egg blue binding, I feel assured that anything I will ever need to know about food can be found within those pages.

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