I didn’t learn to cook until I was in college. In my sophomore year, I signed up to bake for the Hungry Newt, a student-run coffee joint in the basement of one of the old frat houses.
I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Despite being the granddaughter and daughter of very competent cooks, I had absorbed nothing. I needed help. I needed a guide to the mystic culinary arts. I bought this:
I wish I’d gotten a first edition, which features Saint Martha of Bethany slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery (I kid you not):
I read large portions of it like a novel, finally grasping the nuts and bolts of cooking. Because of my baking gig, I ran through the cookies section first. I began to see patterns – with cookies, for example, you usually start by creaming butter and sugar together (this was a revelation at the time). It was one part chemistry, one part Potions.
While I have become pretty confident in the kitchen, I still refer to the Joy of Cooking. At Christmas, I sought its advice on roasting a whole beef tenderloin. And last Sunday, I checked how long an egg needed to poach:
I love the language – “Swirl the water into a mad vortex”! Delightful.
This book will always have a place on my shelf.
Nom nom nom.