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October 09, 2006



I haven't read any edition of this book, so my comments are sort of tangential. I do know that the original two versions are very well respected.

Think about these books in the context of the times. The "celebrity" chefs of 1997 and the "celebrity" chefs of 2006 are very different. Then, it was all about the quality of the food and learning technique. Sure, Julia Child was selling cookbooks, but it was almost and afterthought. Now it's all about MARKETING - selling books, DVDs, kitchen gadgets and cookware is the focus.

My idea of a cookbook is Cook's Illustrated magazine. They not only tell you what ingredients to use and how to put them together, they tell you the WHY - which is the most important thing. I have purchased any number of cookbooks and ended up disappointed with most of them. (Back when Cooks did coobook reviews they made me feel like less of a failure when THEY had trouble/disappointments cooking from some of the books they reviewed). I now am VERY critical and selective when choosing a cookbook.

To me, cooking is like playing an instrument - you start out following other's compositions and hopefully develop your own style well enough to "solo" when necessary.

Unfortunately, today, even most "scratch" cooks I know are "recipe followers". They never get beyond "Tab A in Slot B" to the "why". When I see things like PRE-MADE pancakes in the grocery store, I think even those who cook from recipes are a sad minority. Most people I know have such screwy priorities that they think cooking is a bother.


I'm with you on objecting to jettisoning things made from scratch--are they crazy? I actually own 5 copies of Joy--my mother's (inherited, and in pieces), my own first copy (wedding present), a replacement copy for that copy (when it started to fall apart), a vintage copy from the '30s (from an estate sale), and the 1997 revisionist copy. I did think the 1997 copy was noticeably different, but not in a bad way--I liked the new recipes. But I wouldn't want to give up my old copies either.

Owen O'Neill

Joy of Cooking is the second or third cookbook I acquired and remains the one that I use most often. I'm not sure which edition I have but it's been in my possession since the early 1980's - certianly not a new iteration.

I've always appreciated the extensive general information it offers about various meats, vegetables, starches, sauces etc. It's invaluable for the beginner and the more advanced cook who's working with a new ingedient or one they haven't played with in quite some time.

And if the new edition is resorting to suggstions that premade foods such as canned soups ect should be uses as a short-cut in preparing dishes like casseroles - shame on them! The most complicated thing about Bechamel sauce is the name. Due to an extremely hectic schedule and eating solo I no longer cook very often but there's no excuse for using canned soups in a casserole. Not to mention that recipes of that sort are readily available on the label of most packaged convenience foods.

Even more troubling to me is the increased levels of sodium in pre-made foods such as soup and the ubiquity of HFCS. Anything I can do to reduce those in my food intake is worth the effort.

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