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Review: Joy of Cooking
 

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Joy of Cooking
By Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, & Ethan Becker
ISBN: 0684818701
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: Nov. 1997
Format: List price: $35 (Canada, UK)
Type: Comprehensive
Sample recipe: Salmon Pâté
Ambitions
intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive Biblical stature coffee-table
competition: outclassed also-ran midrange strong challenger leads the pack
Content
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 >300
practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% >80%
# of ingredients: <3 <6 <9 <12 >12
ingredient hunt: 7-11 pantry supermarket online airfare required
recipe complexity: baby steps simple medium intense professional
instructions: inadequate bare bones full figured educational verbose
time conscious: outright lies speed of light fairly quick takes time takes all day
photos/drawings: skimpy adequate generous instructive glorious
recipe results: dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
flavor quotient: disappointing fair good delicious exceptional
Format
layout: ick cluttered clean kind to cooks work of art
legibility: microscopic challenging adequate clear brilliant
production quality: cheesy questionable years of service gift-quality stunning
value: ouch! a little pricey on the money excellent worth splurging
Ease of Use
page numbers: invisible hard to find spotty adequate obvious
table of contents: missing frustrating passable useful helpful
index quality: none tragic adequate good excellent
page flipping: infuriating tedious acceptable rare never
Author
writer: hack cook turned writer writer turned cook comedian auteur
cook: self-taught non-restaurant chef teacher celebrity
Summary
overall rating: fair good above average excellent Ochef Top 100
Comments: So a committee came together, scrapped 85% of the earlier edition of Joy of Cooking, came up with new recipes and new procedures, and this 1136-page book is the result. Seriously, for anything put together by a committee to come out this good is nothing short of a miracle. If you had to limit yourself to only one cookbook, this would be a strong and viable contender for most anyone.

The book is thoroughly up to date, reflecting the way people cook now. Yes, the committee maintained the JOC convention of stringing procedures and ingredients together in paragraph form, which some people love and others, um, appreciate less. And beyond a few decorative line drawings, there are no pictures. But the book is still full of essential cooking information that you'd have to buy a half-dozen other cookbooks to accumulate otherwise.

And so what if it took us five years to review the book? It just took us a long time to realize that while we'd love to have a 1955 Thunderbird, it is a lot more practical to have a modern car to drive on a daily basis (we wouldn't mind a new Thunderbird, either. Are you listening Ford?). And just as we refer frequently to earlier versions, the new Joy of Cooking deserves a place on everyone's cookbook shelf.

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