The Tenth Muse

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, by Judith Jones

Yup, another food book. This was an interesting memoir by an interesting woman. She had a WASP-y childhood but ended up living in Paris after WWII and working for a publisher. She loved good food and she came into her own when living in Paris. It opened her eyes to a new way of eating, and she combined her love of food with her literary career by searching out good writing about food. She worked with Julia Child, and they ended up publishing "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which changed how Americans cooked. I didn't realize how influential is was until I read this book. Judith Jones then sought out other ethnic food cook book authors. After a while, she realized she was what she called a "food snob" and started looking for authentic American cuisine. Through many travels with her equally food-focused husband, from Appalachia to Vermont to Paris to Bali, they found and celebrated good food.

I also enjoyed her writing about her friendships with food giants like MFK Fisher, James Beard, and Julia Child. Other cookbook authors I want to find now are Nina Simonds, Edna Lewis, Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey, Marion Cunningham.... The end of the book is a collection of recipes which mirrors the different stages of her life. I think it was generous of her to share what she loved, and her passion made the book a great read.

Here's the last two paragraphs of the book, which sums it up, I think.

"Moreover, I always take home new tastes and new challenges, so my table for one is constantly changing. And friends and family who partake of my fare are, I hope, never bored. There is an old Italian saying, A tavola non s'invecchia--"At the table one never grows old." Isn't that reason enough to come home at the end of the day, roll up one's sleeves, fire up the stove, and start smashing the garlic?
As Brillat-Savarin wrote: 'The pleasures of the table are for every man, of every land, and no matter of what place in history or society, they can be part of all his other pleasures, and they last the longest to console him when he has outlived the rest.'"


Jason said...

I was directed to your blog by a friend of mine, named Dan. He has a largish group of people, our fellowship, which were informed of your blog - so you may be getting some viewers.

I noticed you spelled the word "coook". If I find similar misspellings, would you like me to point them out?

By the way - really interesting blog. Thanks for posting :)

Rachel said...

Thanks, Jason! I fixed the spelling. With my messy typing, I'm surprised you didn't find more errors!
Thanks for the compliment. Dan told me he was recommending this site... which means I'd better start updating it more often. :c) Welcome.