Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Irma!

It's the birthday today of Irma Rombauer, author of The Joy of Cooking. This was the first big cookbook I owned, and it's the one everyone in my family refers to when they need basic directions. How do you boil an egg? Scald milk? Make a custard pie? There are more innovative cookbooks, and there are more comprehensive ones, but this is the one I turn to again and again.

I have a sort of hypothesis that there are Fanny* (as in Fanny Farmer) people and Irma people. I have a tattered old paperback Fanny, but I use the Joy (as I've always called it) much more often--I suspect because my mother did. I've sometimes checked both for some basic thing, and they are almost always just slightly different, which can be disconcerting. Shouldn't there be just one way to do these basic things? Well, no. But if they do disagree, I'll almost always go with Irma. She's a good friend to have in the kitchen.


*Confusingly, at least to me, the Fanny Farmer cookbook is now written by Marion Cunningham, and the Joy has for many years listed Marion Rombauer Becker as a co-author. So really they are both Marion, but to me they are Fanny and the Joy.

7 comments:

FreshHell said...

I'm a Joy person. The appendixes for weights/measures and substitutions are worth their weight in gold.

Becca said...

We are Joy all the way, use it constantly. BUT our 1997 hardcover is literally falling apart, and I don't want to replace it with 2006--but I just see on Amazon, checking the date, that I can buy 1997! What savvy marketing on their part... (and I think the fact that my word verification is "poise" must be some kind of tribute to something!)

Magpie said...

Joy. Absolutely. I have two editions, 1953 and 1975.

Did you read the biography a few years ago? "Stand Facing the Stove" - it's good.

Libby said...

My sister's a big fan, but I haven't managed to find the time yet. I'm hoping to get to it before too long!

Caroline said...

I've always been a Joy girl too, of course, but lately I'm seeing many references to delicious things coming out of the Fanny Farmer Baking Book and I wonder if I might just need to pick that up.
Meanwhile, I'll try to find my Stand Facing the Stove for you, though it might be out on loan somewhere at the moment...

Margaret said...

My "Stand Facing the Stove" just came home after being out on loan for about 2 years - and I've enjoyed dipping in and out as I've had a few minutes. My editions of Joy are 1953 and 1967.... They are tattered, stained, dog-eared and annotated. And for some things, I do refer to Fanny ... as my Mother did, although she was a college classmate of Marion's!

TC said...

Love The Joy. Use it ALL the time. It's easily the cookbook I use more often than all the others I have--and I have MANY--combined.