In the 50s and 60s, my grandfather worked for Bobbs-Merrill Publishing in Indianapolis, where he was editor of the United States Code, Annotated. (For you legal folks who are familiar with this title, he did it without computers. Oh. My. God.)
Grandpa brought a lot of books home from work that I assume he got for free because they were damaged or defective. We have a lot of Bobbs-Merrill books spread throughout my family that have the wrong cover, were printed upside down, or something. Bobbs-Merrill had some serious quality-control issues in their printing plant, apparently.
My copy of The Joy of Cooking is one of these defective books, stamped “corners bent.” It’s defective in a lot of other ways, too: there are recipes calling for cyclamate sweeteners and MSG, it advocates dangerous methods of home canning (botulism, anyone?), and is filled with plenty of tips on how to please your husband with food (no, that’s not what I meant…you guys sure have filthy minds).
This copy of The Joy of Cooking came to me from my mother when I graduated from college and moved into my first apartment. It predates saccharine, NutraSweet, non-gringo Mexican and Asian cuisines, and most obviously feminism.
“Millions of brides have been given JOY OF COOKING as a one-volume insurance against any and all kitchen crises.” Ugh.
The illustrations are little simple line drawings, so fortunately we’re spared those supersaturated-color recipe illustrations of yesteryear. (More pictures of food disasters here)
There’s a lot of good stuff in here too, however. For example, if you hunt or fish, this book contains everything you need to know about cleaning, dressing and preparing all sorts of wild game. This is good for me to know, because if my unemployment continues for much longer, I’ll be eating squirrels, pigeons and raccoons for dinner. (Of course in 1964, you’d be cooking whatever dead animals your husband brought home, right?)
I mostly use this book as a reference, to look up things like cooking times and temperatures for various foods. If you know little or nothing about cooking, you can find all the basic information you need here – the kind of information that never goes out of date.