If I were only allowed only one cookbook, Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, would be the one. First published by Irma Rombauer in 1931, Joy of Cooking is probably the most referenced cookbook in America, and a home cooking standard and essential for anyone learning how to cook. Most home cooks my mom’s age (70s) have several editions. Until now, I’ve just had one – the 1975 version, though I’ve worn through several copies.
About ten years ago Joy of Cooking was revised to great fanfare. For the first time the publishers invited many chefs to contribute to the cookbook which until then had only been Irma and her daughter Marion’s work. The problem with this 1996 edition was that with all those contributors it lost the comfortable, practical “voice” of the Joy of Cooking that we had all grown to love. Not only that, but this edition removed many favorite recipes, including the entire section on canning.
The lastest (ninth) edition of Joy of Cooking has just been released, in celebration of the 75 year anniversary of the first edition. The project was led by Ethan Becker, son of Marion and grandson of Irma. In this edition, Joy of Cooking returns (thankfully) to its roots as our home grown, home cooking bible. Back are the sections on canning, preserves, and homemade ice cream. New are 30 minute meals, grilling, and even hearth cooking (completely impractical in my house, but I love the idea of it). An extensive ingredient reference, sections on knife skills, growing herbs, and freezing foods, make this new version once again and invaluable reference for the home cook.
More book recommendations
I’ve listed some of my favorite books in the Simply Recipes Amazon store. See favorite cookbook classics, food-related memoirs, books on world cuisine, and books on the science and history of food.