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NEW New Joy of Cooking

I just read an article in the NY Times magazine that states that the 1997 edition of New Joy was something of a failure. I have used my 97 edition quite a lot, but I must admit to being a little daunted by some of the recipes. This article says the new version is more accessible. Does anyone have any thoughts on the 97 edition or the new one? Is it worth buying the latest version?

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  1. The article was in the NY Times Magazine today, Sunday, Oct. 15th. I think what the author was saying is that the 1997 edition was a failure because, well, here is a snip...

    In 1997, the last time Joy of Cooking was revised, things seemed to have gone terribly wrong. Recipes from professional food writers replaced many of the books old standards, food processors whirred a bit too much and the voice of the cookbook became subsumed. In 97 we kind of lost our way, Becker concedes. You had to make your own bechamel sauce to get the perfect tuna-fish casserole. But that is not what tuna casserole is about. It is about getting home and realizing that theres nothing in the fridge for dinner and that there is nothing wrong with tuna casserole from a can.

    Here is a link, but I think one has to have a 'membership' or sign in..


    Here is another snip from the article regarding the newest edition...

    The new edition -- a sort of greatest hits of home cooking -- raises the interesting question of whether a cookbook covering sushi to ham loaf is relevant at a time when the cookbook industry is so fragmented by microcuisines.

    Another snip..

    The new edition brings back the old voice and some favorites --like tamale pie -- but also adds some new recipes, like Mediterranean short ribs with olives, and enchiladas verdes. But mostly it is basics, many of them beloved.

    After musings...the author concludes in this snip...

    I cannot promise that the new Joy will spend every night with me at the stove. I confess I will never turn to it for enchiladas. But it does feel right sitting there on my shelf, telling me who I am.

    The Joy reader is my mother, who juggled career and family and by and large did a heck of a fine job of it, Becker says. I also see people who are stuck overseas. I see a professional chef who is looking for ideas for specials. I see a bachelor friend who is looking to make a meal for a date.

    There are two recipes in the article, one a Tamale Pie, the other a Mystery Cake with...tomato soup. I think they are back to basics if that is what you are interested in.

    1. I think this link does not require a sign in (until the article goes off line) to the NY Times Magazine story on the new edition of the Joy of Cooking..


      1 Reply
      1. re: Jesdamala

        The sign in at the NY Times is free. It is well worth the effort to access their food and recipe section.

      2. I realize that this doesn't really answer your question, but I have a hardback version of JoC from the 1970s and I love it. I use it all the time as a reference--how long to cook certain meats, measurement conversions, etc, and plus, I've loved the recipes I've tried. Particularly for cakes, brownies, and soups. Best of all, I got it used for next to nothing--I think at Powell's in Portland, OR. I wholeheartedly recommend at least leafing through a copy.

        1. "...You had to make your own bechamel sauce to get the perfect tuna-fish casserole. But that is not what tuna casserole is about. It is about getting home and realizing that theres nothing in the fridge for dinner and that there is nothing wrong with tuna casserole from a can."... LOL

          For me, tuna-fish casserole is a classic in the "roommate cuisine" genre. It's your week to do the cooking, and you never make a culinary production out of it -- too busy to fuss around in the kitchen. There's not much left in the groceries kitty. So, boil up some noodles, then mix with cream-of-whatever soup thinned with milk or yogurt or wine, and add a can of tuna. Top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Cook until bubbly.

          1. I love the '97 edition of JOC! I've given to many brides and grooms and to friends on their b-days. It has become a corner stone of my cookbook library. If I want something basic and reliable but still contemporary, I go to it first. The appetizer section is great, as is the quick bread section.

            As much as I like the idea of the 70's version, it just doesn't do it for me. There's just something a little luncheon-ish about the recipes for me. YES, it's a great reference. I own a spiral bound copy, but use it mostly for the candy recipes.

            1. I know I'm in the minority, but I think the 1997 revision was brilliant. I have no nostalgia for older versions of this book, and the canned condensed soups called for in the recipes. To me, it seems like people are longing for a return to simpler times, which can translate to mediocrity. The loaf of bread that we loved 30 years ago, or even ten years ago, is far different from, and probably inferior to, what we have access to today, even in the most commercial supermarkets.

              I thought it was a brilliant idea to have authors who specialize in a particular subject work on the different chapters. I would far prefer to have cake recipes developed by Alice Medrich. for example, than a lot of the hand-me-downs from older editions (granted, some of these are very good).

              Maria Guarnaschelli, the editor of the 1997 revision, went out on a limb with her daring concept, and I really don't think it's fair at all to call older editions "better" or even "as good". "Mediocre"is more like it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: btnfood

                I like the 97 edition too, but my mother was never a Joy user, and so I had no nostalgia for the old one. The 97 is great for basics, and there are some really stellar recipes in there (acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, parmesan and hazelnuts -- Amazing.

              2. My Joy of Cooking, 1997 version is the best cookbook I own, and it shows by how worn out it is. I may have to purchase the new edition when it comes out.

                I agree many of the recipies in the 1997 book are very food processor oriented, I love using my knives, so I rarely use a food processor.

                Also I never make Tuna Casserole, but if I did I would make my cream sauce from scratch, not use a canned variety. Using a canned soup/base is cheating, and I would be embarassed to serve it in my house.

                1. The ’97 Joy of Cooking was something of a scandale in the book industry even before it was published. The publisher held focus groups to see what direction the revision should take and chefs and food writers were hired to oversee individual chapters. There were squabbles galore about the direction the book should take and it was much, much longer in production than anticipated. It was decided there should be a shift in focus from French to Italian cuisine, the inclusion of more ethnic cuisines, and that cooking times should be revised to accommodate preferences for rare- to medium-rare meat as opposed to well done. The new version has less emphasis on food information and a greater emphasis on cooking technique. Many felt that in the process, the book was becoming too trendy and losing it’s unique, single voice. It became more the work of a committee than the presentation of a single, however quirky, point of view. And indeed, many reviews of the new edition criticized it for just that reason.

                  On the other hand, nearly all reviewers agreed that the new versions of the old recipes were far superior to the previous ones. (I believe only about 2% of the recipes remained the same as those in the ’75 edition.) And some applauded, although many did not, the expansion of the chapter on beer and wine.

                  It will be interesting to see what types of changes will be made in this newest version. I own, and treasure, two copies of the ’75 edition and never felt the need to buy the ’97. But I use the book for it’s reference information, not much for it’s recipes. For a large, compendium cookbook I far prefer The Doubleday Cookbook (although in that instance as well I have the previous, not the new, version).

                  1. Another vote for the 97 book which I use a great deal. Several of my favorite recipes come from this book which I far prefer to the earlier version which I also have. I look up some preserve directions in the older book, but that's about it.

                    1. I loved the way the older editions were good for "How do you make ...."
                      a souffle
                      beef wellington
                      white sauce

                      great for a beginning cook and a book to refer to for mechanics, not culinary whiz-bang.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: toodie jane

                        Exactly. No one book can be "definitive" in its recipes, especially for different cuisines, so when I want a great recipe, I go to a specialty cookbook or the Internet (or chowhound!). But when I want technique, or basics, I reach for Joy (the 1975 edition my Mom gave me when I went off to college). That's why I think most people considered the 1997 edition a mistake: it took out much of the "basics" that were the real value of the book and instead tried to become a definitive or comprehensive collection of recipes, which no one book can hope to be.

                      2. I have 2 editions of Joy, 1997 being one of them. I complained to the editor of the that impending issue on the phone about the format. I like to have an ingredient list preceding the method. It is much easier to set everything out without having to hunt within the instructions for the ingredients. The editor told me that she was bound to the format originated by the original author(s). BAH HUMBUG! I rarely look at the book except for explanations of methods and ingredients.

                        1. The official release date is 10/31/06, fyi. I guess they wanted the Bon Appetit book release to have faded. (September & October are the big annual releases for the $35-40 cookbook category for Christmas shopping, and there are usually 2 competing "category killers" released each year.)

                          1. I love my 97 Joy. I'm nostaligic as the next person about their Mom's recipes but I also have developed my own tastes since childhood. So when I crave a tuna noodle cassarole (maybe once every year or two), I make it using a bechemal. While I'm comforted by the notion of the retro dish, I want make a healthier and (let's be honest) tastier dish. My favorite Sunday night one-pot meal is the Chicken Pot Pie from the 97 edition. It's also made using a bechemal, and it's delicious!

                            1. The food section of the Chicago Tribune seems to like it...


                              1. The NY Times food section review yesterday was more ambivalent. They especially condemned a kind of self-conscious kitschiness, which Ethan Becker has complained of as well, it seems. Their bottom line seemed to be to stick with the 1975 and 1997 for the best of both (they noted the chief deficiencies of the 1997 were sections that were yanked, and which can be found in the 1975). Which is what I have done for the past decade. No need to respond to a marketing push here.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Count me in as another '97 version fan. Laura Shapiro, in Slate, has little use for the new edition (and shares my appreciation of Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"). Here's her take: http://www.slate.com/id/2152620/?nav=...

                                2. I love the 1997 version, just my kind of cooking but the hardback version was badly bound for that sized book - too big for glue and mine started falling apart within a few months of getting it. Does anyone know if either the 1997 or the 2006 one comes spiral bound?

                                  If the bulk of the 1997 recipes are in the 2006 one,I might buy it for the binding improvement, although I probably will not be interested in most of the added back recipes.

                                  1. I agree the binding on the 1997 version is terrible., The back cover just came off mine, I will have to buy a 2006 edition in addition to my very heavily used 1997 edition

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                      Me too on the binding issue. My mother-in-law gave it to me for X-mas and she is always aghast when she sees how mine has fallen apart (but happy that it is so well used)- she has wriiten to them twice on the binding issue and gotten no response

                                      I have a much older version as well.

                                    2. I have a Joy that predates the 1975 edition, the 1997 edition, and I just got the new one and am going through it. Good parts to all three, and the older one has more recipes for candy and confections, which I am making more these days. Some of my faves from the early days got dropped in 1997 and I will be interested to see what's back and what's not. I plan to spend some cozy January evenings with all three of them, cross-referencing the stuff I make most often...

                                      1. I have only used one JoC--1997, and I love it. I use it primarily for reference and/or basics. Bought the new edition purely out of curiosity.

                                        1. Are you saying that the latest edition brings back the description of how to clean & dress wild game, and the recipes for possum and squirrel?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: KTFoley

                                            More importantly, does it have the story about the cook serving a roast suckling pig with an apple in 'the' mouth? :-)

                                          2. I am now on my second copy of the 1997 Joy of Cooking, having utilized the first one to shreds. The comments about bechamel sauce are well taken, but one of the things the book has taught me is how to discover my own short cuts through the long way of first making things by scratch.

                                            Their recipes for chicken paprikas and arroz con pollo are absolute favorites in our house, and I have used probably just about every chapter several times. Do I want to make buttermilk waffles? OK, open the Joy of Cooking. What IS okra anyway? Open the Joy of Cooking. What's the difference between top round and top sirloin? The Joy of Cooking tells me. My kids want something Mexican. OK, let's check the Joy of Cooking. Sure, it's a gringo guide to everything, but you gotta start somewhere.

                                            Long story short, I have found it invaluable.